Threat Assessment

Ever since the discovery of the ‘Imperial Dragon’ and, along with him, the massive library of documents in ancient Chinese created by him, China had its best historians and archeologists going over the treasure trove of evidence.

In 2001, they discovered something that alarmed the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Several historians had independently translated a few documents that made them come to a frightening conclusion.

Now known by his real name, Rodanran, the Imperial Dragon had been sent to Earth with a mission. The Quetzal, the word apparently translated to ‘person’ or ‘human’ according to some of the ancient chinese translation of his language, had been all but wiped out during a gigantic war with an enemy not even they had been able to understand.

Rodanran had been one of the few survivors and his commanding officer had ordered him to land on Earth to try and warn the human population and prepare them for the coming of the unknown enemy. Rodanran was devastated as he only found the primitive humans, but, without a homeworld or any other place to go anymore, he tried to fulfill his duty nonetheless and did his best to act as an advisor, even though it took him several years to learn the language, which made his initial years an ordeal and very nearly killed him due to lack of elements needed by his organism.

Rodanran had been very careful and the Chinese bureaucracy, even if it was only in its beginning, had helped him. Perhaps, some historians noted, he had assisted in developing the ancient bureaucracy.

A massive wealth of information had been collected, including data on the enemy spacecraft and their shape and sizes. Only the weapons could not be described, as the ancient chinese language simply lacked the appropriate pictograms. There were some simple drawings, but it was clear that neither Rodanran, nor any Chinese of the time were particularly gifted with painting what the Quetzal had tried to get across. The only clearly translatable icons were ‘Death’ and ‘Destruction’.

Additionally the documents contained something of a dictionary for the Quetzal language. Like the Chinese language it made use of pictograms, which were very similar to the early Olmec script, suggesting a connection, perhaps even indicating that the Quetzalcoatl had taught the Olmecs the written word.

Still, the information alarmed the Central Committee and the scope alone was simply too large for just the Chinese. Even with their own economic growth, they could never hope to mount a serious defense, should the Quetzal enemy come to Earth.

Jiang Zemin, the President of the Peoples Republic of China, used the G-12 Conference in 2002 to inform the other major world leaders about the news of an alien threat. During the Conference, China disclosed all information they had to date. One of the most disturbing parts of the new informations, which had only recently been translated, was that the Quetzal had found evidence of ‘cycles of destruction’, where the unknown enemy that had destroyed their civilization had lead to the destruction of at least four other, earlier civilizations.

The United States and the Soviet Union were quick to note that everything they had discovered until now on Mars and the Veneran derelict could be explained with the Chinese evidence. It did not sit well with the two superpowers of Earth, and neither with any of the other nations with a vested interest in space.

After the G-12 Conference of 2002, the involved nations officially announced several international cooperations to get rid of the orbital debris that threatened active satellites and manned stations. While that was true, the real intention behind the operation was to set up an worldwide operation to defend mankind from bigger threats.

The Soviet Union, as the, then, sole operator of orbital laser platforms, began to use their Polyus Platforms as ‘laser brooms’. This meant firing the laser at orbital debris to either completely destroy them, or change their orbits with jets of vaporized material into a decaying orbit that eventually intersected with the Earth atmosphere, destroying the debris on reentry.

To defend Earth, mankind and especially their own nations, the G-12 member nations knew that they had to develop new weapons. Weapons that also might be used against each other should it ever come to it, making them wary of any kind of threatening moves towards each other.

In the time between the G-12 Conference of 2002 and 2003, the other nations who had access to a Quetzal derelict and other remains, were able to uncover several documents in the form of nearly indestructible polymer books written in the Quetzal script. With the help of the Chinese-Quetzal dictionary it was possible to get partial translations, which seemed to confirm the Chinese discovery.

The G-12 Conference of 2003 was held in Paris and largely under the impression of the massive detonation of an asteroid thirty kilometers above Sao Paulo, which had destroyed nearly all windows in the city and resulted in almost one hundred million US Dollars worth of damage on top of it.

The asteroid’s detonation had a yield of nearly 500 Megatons of TNT, ten times as large as the largest nuclear weapon ever used. Had the detonation happened at a lower altitude, Sao Paulo would have been destroyed.

The Conference ended with talks about a treaty to set up a sort of ‘Asteroid Patrol’, whose job it would be to detect asteroids and develop ways to protect Earth against them. On a more covert level, ‘Asteroid Patrol’ allowed the space nations to cooperate, train and develop ways to protect Earth against alien invasions. Any construction of spaceborne weapons and armed spacecraft could be attributed to the still ongoing Cold War.

Detection of threats was something that could be coordinated with relative ease, as it was possible to make use of the existing infrastructure.

To defend against a potential alien invasion, possible staging points had to be known. Those could for instance be planets orbiting other stars, stray worlds in interplanetary space or moons of potential brown dwarfs.

The first extrasolar planet had been detected in 1995 and since then the number of potential planets had slowly but steadily grown. The detection methods were relatively simple, but with the need to find more planets and find them fast, the scientists that actively looked for extrasolar planets found themselves with more than adequate funding all of a sudden.

Most of the operations were done with ground based telescopes, but by 2010 several space telescopes had joined the search, including a number of space telescopes, like the Brahe Space Telescopes or the Extrasolar Planet Finder, that had been designed specifically to search for and discover extrasolar planets and of course got green lightened a bit more quickly than normal. It aroused some suspicions among scientists, but they kept their mouths shut as they got what they wanted.

The so called ‘Asteroid Patrol’ was of more interest to the general public in 2002 and 2003, when the ‘Asteroid Scare’ was at its peak. It was actually a number of national and partly international governmental organizations that cooperated for ‘Asteroid Patrol’ and worked on ways to detect asteroids and analyze them. The hidden job of ‘Asteroid Patrol’ was largely to work on ways to detect potential alien spacecraft entering the solar system. It was good fortune that both functions could be achieved with the same detection methods.

For this, ‘Asteroid Patrol’ developed the Asteroid Detection Satellite, a cheap satellite that could be built quickly and deployed in large numbers. The satellite was little more than a thirty centimeter telescope with the optical systems needed for the detection of asteroids. Ten satellites were launched in 2005 and deployed in medium Earth orbit. They scanned the sky once a day and on Earth the images were then run through a computer and compared to the previous images. Any successive differences would be noticed and filed as a potential asteroid and then fed into a different system to calculate the hazard level of the found object.

A hidden feature was an infrared camera to look for alien spacecraft, which would be much hotter than any asteroid, given that their power and other systems needed energy that had to be produced by a nuclear reactor.

More proactive was the development of new weapon systems to use in space.

NASA and the US Space Force cooperated for this, largely under the guise of developing weapons to destroy asteroids, while parts of the public thought that these weapons were developed for use against the Soviets.

One of these weapons was the first nuclear armed missile for use in space. As a potential alien threat was likely more advanced than mankind, nuclear weapons seemed to be the perfect weapon to be used against alien spacecraft, as they were the most destructive weapon mankind had access to for a near to medium future.

Using the venerated Agena A upper stage as a base, NASA, Space Force and Lockheed Martin developed the ESM-81 Raptor. Using nitrogen tetroxide and Aerozine 50 as propellants, which could be stored over longer times, the AJ10-118H could be restarted multiple times. Equipped with an active radar and infrared seeker and a radio link to its carrier vehicle, it could be either autonomously controlled or actively from the outside. The warhead it carried was an upgraded W87 nuclear warhead with a yield of 450 kilotons.

An eight meter long Defense Support Module, the DSM-2, was designed for the ESM-81 Raptor, able to carry eight of these nuclear armed missiles.

Another specific weapon system developed by NASA and the Space Force was the Advanced Tactical Laser, a 1 MW photonic crystal laser, based on the laser system of the National Ignition Facility. Compared to the Soviet Polyus Laser, the ATL had a higher pulse rate and was more compact in its design and made up of superconducting capacitors and an adaptive optics system to improve the focus of the beam. Additionally the optics could be used as sighting system as well as laser ranging.

The Space Force also wanted a more conventional weapon to augment or perhaps replace the M-2 turret mount that had originally been designed for space use on the DSM-1. Seeking a heavy close punch to offset the long and medium range of the laser and missiles, the Space Force requested designs for such a weapon.

Out of all designs presented to the Space Force, a version of the Raytheon Phalanx CIWS, the Agema Space Defense System, was selected. The Phalanx was a proven system, much like the M-2, and did pack quite a punch, even without coil boosters increasing the velocity of the 20 mm bullets by 75 percent. Additionally it could theoretically be used to intercept missiles, by letting them fly into a ‘lead wall’.

The Defense Support Module Three, or DSM-3, was designed to house these new weapons. Four AT Lasers were integrated into the module, along with two Agema SDS, two M-2 turrets and vertical launching tubes for the already existing ESM-7 and ESM-54 missiles. The weapon control station within the module was equipped with a modern AEGIS fire control system adapted to space use, using a Lockheed Martin AN/SPY-1F phased radar array for guidance and detection.

To test these systems, The US Space Force began the construction of the USC Ceres at Space Force Base Liberty in 2011. It was equipped with a nuclear and two VASIMR propulsion systems, a Rotational Habitat Module and two nuclear power modules additionally to a solar power module. A single DSM-2 and DSM-3 completed the armament.

Following trials, USC Vesper was upgraded to Ceres specifications, giving the United States access to two spacecraft armed with nuclear and laser weapons.

The Soviets developed a similar system, though they made use of their already mobile ballistic missiles. The OTR-23 Oka, known to the West as SS-23 Spider, was reactivated as nuclear armed missile for use in space, carrying a 500 kt warhead. The downside of the OTR-23B Cosmo Oka was the reduced range and the lack of terminal guidance due to the use of a solid rocket stage as booster. A small liquid propellant stage attached to the warhead itself and equipped with limited guidance tried to remove the problem in the OTR-23C.

The Soviet Union had a lead in the area of laser weapons, compared to the United States, as they had already launched four Polyus laser platforms, which had been delegated to tackle the problem of orbital debris. While cleaning the reachable orbits, the targeting systems of the laser were improved by a large margin.

The Polyus laser itself saw a further development into a smaller design, which was able to produce the same amount of energy, 1 MW. A slightly larger version of the advanced Polyus laser produced an energy of 1.75 MW.

For the Soviet Union, the NR-30 machine gun had proven that it worked in space, but now they needed something to counter the American Agema. The GSh-6-30, a six barrel 30mm rotary gun used in the MiG 27 was selected and fitted with coil boosters to increase the bullet velocity. Two of these guns were mounted into a single frame, copying the style of the Kashtan CIWS system used by the Soviet Navy, designated Kashtan-S.

Not to be outdone by the United States, the Red Army developed a spacecraft design based on the VEK and the MEK spacecraft and modified an MOK core module to carry sixteen OTR-23C missiles, four 1.75 MW Polyus lasers, two Kashtan-S, as well as a number of smaller NR-30 machine gun turrets.

The new Armed MOK module had only a reduced amount of space available for a crew, but as it had been designed to be docked with a Armed TKS, it was not seen as being much of a problem.

Additionally a Polyus II armed satellite was designed. It was only a little smaller and carried two 1.75 MW lasers and a single OTR-23C missile.

By 2013, the Soviet Red Army operated two new Armed Expeditionary Complexes, AEK, Otvazhnyy and Reshitelnyy, as well as the original four Polyus I and four additional Polyus II satellites, with the Polyus being used to sweep clean parts of Earth orbit.

Like the United States and the Soviet Union, the European Union felt that nuclear weapons to use against an alien enemy or an asteroid were a prudent idea.

The nuclear armed missile of the European Union was developed on the base of the German Astrid rocket stage, originally meant to be used as third stage of the ill fated Europa rocket. Equipped with a Swedish radar and infrared seekers and a British ET.318 thermonuclear warhead with 375 kt yield, the new missile was capable of a higher delta-v than the Soviet and US design.

The missile was named Flamberge. Its relatively short and stubby design made it impossible to be used by the Minotaur and was only considered to be carried either by defense satellites or larger spacecraft, like the American Vesper and Ceres and the Soviet AEK.

Lasers, being light speed weapons were also on the list of developments in the European Union. Germany was leading in the area industrial lasers and ESA looked into adapting the rugged design for space. These lasers were less powerful than the military lasers developed by the Americans and the Soviets, as they were continuous lasers, while Soviets and Americans used pulsed lasers.

One accepted design for a military laser was a combination of ten industrial fiber lasers that fed a single ruby lasing cavity to create a more powerful laser beam. The design was able to generate a 500 kW pulsed beam and a 100 kW continuous beam.

A slightly different way of generating laser beams was also considered, in the form of Free Electron Lasers. They were of special interest, as it was possible to change the beam frequency without much problems, where conventional lasers had a fixed frequency. Practically it was even possible to switch from infrared beams into the X-ray spectrum. Only the power of a compact laser weapon was a problem. By 2010, and using some Quetzal tricks, it was possible to generate a 50 kW X-ray laser with a length of 5 meters. The nature of the X-rays however would reduce the weapons to a fixed mount with a limited area of engagement.

The European selection for a more conventional weapon was, while in the same weight class as the American and Soviet selection, unusual. After a design contest for a coil boosted conventional weapon for space use, it was OTO Melara who got selected. The gun in question was a version of the OTO Melara 76 mm Spazio Super Rapid. Already a vast success and used by over 60 navies all over the world, the Super Rapid provided Euroforce and ESA with a highly flexible weapon.

What sealed the deal with OTO Melara however was the munition type developed specially for space. Based on the DART Munition, the new CORRETTA Munition was equipped with a miniature RCS system and a little solid fuel booster, allowing the terminal guidance of the projectile not unlike the DART and VULCANO projectile used by the conventional Super Rapid.

ESA and Euroforce did not build orbital weapon satellites, but rather developed the Tactical Module, armed with two OTO Melara 76 mm Spazio Super Rapid and two of the 500 kW Lasers. The first to use the Tactical Module were the three combat spacecraft of the Lancer series. Derived from the Traghetto series of cislunar tugs, and based on the Viking Propulsion Module, the Lancer series was able to patrol cislunar space, but lacked the needed Delta V for interplanetary journeys. With the Discovery Project ongoing, that was not seen as much of a problem however.

The Chinese decided to take a slightly different route with their own nuclear armed space borne missiles. Rather than using a single staged design based on older hardware, they developed a new two staged missile. The first stage consisted of four solid rocket boosters that gave the missile an initial kick, while a liquid fueled second stage was meant for course corrections and terminal guidance. Like the other missiles, the Chinese Ju Neng missile used a mixture of radar and infrared guidance to find its target, as well as a radio link back to an operator. The warhead of the Deng Neng was a thermonuclear device with a yield of 350 kt.

Much like the United States, China had developed high powered lasers for research in nuclear fusion. Using this know how, scientists and technicians were able to build a 750 kW high energy dye laser, with a much higher pulse rate in the femtoseconds range. To use this laser in a weapons, two were combined into the same mount, creating a 1.5 MW laser system.

Much like the United States and the Soviet Union, China opted to use a CIWS system as base for their next generation of space born conventional weaponry and developed a space worthy version of the H/PJ12 CIWS, with a seven barrel 30mm rotary cannon and coil booster, the H/P12S.

The Shuguang III was modified to be able to dock with a multi use service module, which was equipped with two Ju Neng missiles, a H/P12S and a single of the 1.5 MW lasers. The module was additionally designed so that it would be attached to a space station or a larger spacecraft, not unlike the American Defense Support Modules.

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