Spherical ships

For a battleship that plans to go into the fight borg cube style (sitting in the middle and fire in all directions) the sphere+bb8 turret style would fit perfectly.
Other combat roles might need different approaches.

Spheres are more mechanically complex and require more weapons to cover their whole area. You wouldn’t want every ship to be a sphere, you’d want ships that need excellent defense from all directions to be spheres. For your average interceptor, building it directionally would mean more firepower concentrated on just one side, the side you hit your enemy with, instead of trying to be perfect at every angle. You’d just have to have thrusters good enough that you could immediately turn around to face anything. It would also mean that the actual shell of the ship would be a solid frame with no major moving parts, unlike in a sphere.

Not to mention that spheres don’t fly well in most atmospheres, making the sphere design more suited overall to capital ships that need excellent point defense because they’re going to be attacked by multiple enemies at multiple directions. They also don’t need to fly fast in atmospheres.

I think you’re missing the point here. In space, there is no preferred direction and all motion is relative. If a destroyer is intercepted by smaller ships, the destroyer is essentially stationary. It doesn’t matter how the destroyer maneuvers because the smaller ships will stay with it. From there, the smaller ships will maneuver to attack the destroyer at its weakest points. The smaller ships can do that because there is no preferred direction in space.

So long as there are aggressors that can intercept you, a sphere is your best design.

Interesting assertions.

  1. Spheres are mechanically simpler than other shapes because they are symmetrical on all three axes. There are no changes of curvature at any point. Build a component and it can be used anywhere on the ship. As far as shape is concerned. Those BB-style turrets can run all over the surface of the ship. A hangar bay built under the surface of the ship can go anywhere on the surface. And so on, with other components.

  2. Spheres require the least number of weapons to cover all approaches… At an extreme, six turrets will do the job, assuming the ability to point the weapons at least tangential to the surface of the sphere. A raised turret would be able to do even better than that. Also, there are no blind spots and no firing arcs that involve shooting the ship. Well, apart from the other turrets.

The point about interceptors is a valid one. When a ship cannot itself be intercepted, there’s no need for defense in all directions. More generally, if a ship has a specialized function that dictates a specific form, then the sphere isn’t going to do the job. For example, if a ship must pass through a narrow space with as much mass as possible, a long cylinder is going to be preferred. That’s a contrived example, but the general idea is that there can be demands on ships that override the concern for combat effectiveness. The form of a civilian ship may well be dominated by other functions.

If we assume, that your ship uses a magical drive to move itself, I want a magical laser that has a high enough energy output to heat a single point to the surface temperature of the suns core.
Last time I checked, lasers were near instant in short distances. I assume that the fight occurs at a distance between both ships of less than 300km?

If I think of what future space battles really might look like I don’t see maneuvering around your enemy and I don’t see destroyer class ships.
Looking at how combat has evolved in the past I see only one future. Offence beats defense - by far.
It’s a lot easier to concentrate energy on your enemy then to absorb or deflect it.

There will be no battleships or destroyers.
There will be carriers for long range transport and small drones/missiles.

Carriers will start their ships far outside weapon range and will then fly away.
Drones will be flying guns. When they get into weapon range (which is still far away from each other) all that matters is who scores hits faster.
By the time the two fleets meet one of them is already shot to pieces and the winning side will try to catch the carrier.

In that scenario maybe the carrier is spherical because of the good volume to surface ratio.
But the other combat ships will be… hmm. Cylinders

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Not having seen this comment until now, I just happened to watch Contact last night and I love that movie.

I never knew him when he was around, but man do I miss Carl.

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Actually, if you look at how combat has evolved, you’ll see that what dominates and ends wars is weapons of mass destruction. And what is the biggest space weapon of mass destruction? That’s right, the Death Star. And the Death Star is a sphere (that kinda looks like a moon). Therefore, Spheres FTW! :stuck_out_tongue:

Fakeedit: Actually, now that I think about it, if you look at how combat has evolved, you’ll see that economic and propaganda warfare is what has started to decide the world’s great battles between nations. Therefore, ships of the future will actually be giant lawyer or banker or television broadcaster ships, Shlock Mercenary style. And as such, they will seek to maximize profit. And what is the most efficient, cost effective ship you can build (sort of converting an appropriate asteroid to a ship)? That’s right, spheres FTW!

((The above is intended to be humorous and does not represent my actual opinions. Like any same man, I know that the future of space combat is actually arming space bears.))


i think spheres would be good as an all-around ship, but not efficient combat-wise, a fighter would take them down fast due to better defense on the front and better offensive power (spheres are not a good shape to hold powerful weapons), yes the sphere can “turn” faster, but the weapon power won’t suffice that advantage, the fighter will take down the sphere as soon as the sphere is targeted, since both ship’s movement will be pretty much the same outside the “turning” speed. Now spheres as transport ships would be actually very useful, since they could have better defense overall and resist more attacks from any direction while someone comes to the rescue.

Now in athmospheres, they would be destroyed by plane-like ships since they will use athmospheric friction on their favor, while spheres would have friction as a disvantage

I somewhat doubt armour in space would ever be a thing. If a ship is getting hit by enemy weapons at the sorts of engagement ranges it would need, something’s probably going wrong at the design-stage.

Modern military doctrine gravitates towards a ‘shoot first, shoot once, shoot accurately, destroy target’ mentality.

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You forgot, “shoot from as far as possible”.

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The A-10 Warthog and M1A1 Abrams would like to have a word with you.

But in all seriousness, there is an issue with a spherical shape: no matter what you do, your armor is always at a minimum at one point. With a cube shape, you could point an edge toward the biggest gun, and increase the effective armor by 41% through that angle alone.

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To be fair; those designs are older than me. Wouldn’t call them ‘modern’.

I don’t think you’ll find any military designs that are “modern,” but the old ones seem to do the job at least as well.

I think armor will always have its place, just a matter of what you want.

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The same effect can be accomplished by moving the sphere just a little bit in any direction. Ultimately, trying to orient a cube edge would be an exercise in futility in large scale engagements as a series of attacks approach your ship from multiple directions.

Certainly not at the level we’re talking about for combat ships. This sphere stuff is all about gameplay. For some reason, folks are getting worked up about our actual future.

The future that I see is AI drones doing what we need to get done, which is mostly exploration and resource collection. If nations or corporations get into head-to-head competition in the wilds of space, the drones will quietly hack each other, either electronically or physically, just as nations and corporations are doing on the internet today.

People of power want advantage, and a war that destroys their infrastructure isn’t going to give them that advantage. So they’ll operate quietly and effectively to get that advantage. People in ships shooting at each other just isn’t going to happen unless moving around in space is thoroughly mundane, and there are enough stupid people up there to foment aggression.

Note that a drone that is operating in a hostile environment (radiation, particle impacts, etc) will likely want to have armor, just as various drones do today. Heat shields, micro-meteor shields, and so on. Space is a pretty hostile and energetic place, even without us trying to kill each other.

I highly recommend playing “World of Tanks” to see why that doesn’t work as well as you might hope. The Maus has some of the thickest armor in-game, but the front of the turret is rounded, causing it to be easily penetrated due to the lack of ability to angle it. You have to go halfway across the hemisphere to reach the same effect, armor-wise, leaving a large area where the armor is lesser than it could be.

As far as orientating your edges, you simply point the edge in the direction that is the largest threat. It’s an interesting skill to learn in WoT, as you have to consider what guns are shooting at you, what their penetration values are, what their DPMs are, what their reloads are…it’s all calculated very quickly by the best players, who point their armor in the “ideal” direction to block the most damage. Everyone agrees that rounded surfaces are the least ideal armors due to a lack of ability to do exactly that.

I’m sure it doesn’t work in a 2D environment with terrain masking, near-zero time-of-flight weapons and near-zero relative velocities. As it turns out, Battlescape will have none of those.

Applying the same mindset to conventional aircraft, the lack of heavy armor and a turret would suggest almost immediate death.

Weapon systems are designed for the environment in which they operate. That’s why I suggest spherical spacecraft. They are suited to the environment.

You honestly think you’ll have propellent-less drives, but not weapons that are virtually undetectable until it’s far too late? There’s going to be a point at which your spherical ship has no ability to evade fire, and you’re offering up fully half the diameter of the target as a less-than-ideal armor value.

The cube has considerable advantage in armor, no matter how you consider it: the amount of time it takes you to move the entire ship a quarter the distance of its diameter, I feel you could more than rotate 45 degrees (also, if you angle the point of the cube towards the enemy, you get nearly double the armor value). You get lower mass required for the same armor values, or considerably better armor values for the same weight.

If you’re just going to rely on “don’t get hit,” then shape is irrelevant.

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Love how you think armor would play any part in any post FTL engagement, today’s tanks are capable of shooting through nearly half a meter of solid composite armor with reactive armor on top of that half a meter.

Nukes even today are basically unstoppable once they hit the target and some thermobaric weapons chew through meters of reinforced concrete. Defense in such a high energy offensive environment would be shields and mobility, if you can pump a few GW of power into a shield you can probably survive a direct nuke hit, armor just has no place in future of space.

There actually are interesting space armour designs - for an extended definition of armour, in some cases.

You’ll have to handwave detections levels at what you want anyway, as high-thrust propellantless drives are space magic, and high-thrust propellantless drives that can’t be trivially used as mass-destruction weapons requires divine intervention.

And yet today’s tanks are able to withstand a direct hit from another tank in their front armour. In fact, recently, a video from Syria caught the attention of military analysts by showing a modern T-90 tank getting hit by an equally modern TOW anti-tank missile. The result was a mission kill, but the tank was not destroyed, neither the crew killed: the tank was still repairable - and that’s after getting hit by a modern weapon dedicated to destroy it.
So don’t give armour for dead yet.

For space, it depends too much on assumptions to give a definitive answer, but as the above link shows, there are working design ideas for space armour.

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So here’s the real question: if we have propellant-less drives and relativistic speeds, what is the point of this game? A baseball becomes a moon-ender, a bowling ball a planet-ender.

If we’re talking games (which was my interpretation) and you don’t want it to be Counter Strike In Space (one shot kills, super twitchy and boring as fuck), you’re going to need armor and weapons that can’t just be evaded.

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