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Son of Thor

Rather a while ago, Jerry Pournelle helped develop a weapons concept called Thor. Basically Thor was a collection of meter-long tungsten rods in low-Earth orbit, each rod having it's own de-orbit package and guidance vanes. Whenever a powerful (but non-nuclear) strike would be needed, commands would be send to the appropriate number of Thor rods, which would de-orbit, then guide itself to the target.

By the time these puppies hit the ground, they've got several thousand feet/second kinetic energy each. You better believe anything hit by one (or more) of these is going to be wiped out, like a bolt from above. Or, like Thor's hammer.

While the DoD hasn't gone that far yet, it has developed what StrategyPage.com calls "A Deadly Bomb With No Explosives." (scroll down to the May 4, 2004 entry)

The CBU-107 Passive Attack Weapon (“PAW”) is basicallly a cluster bomb carrying several thousand steel and tungsten "bullets," instead of the usual bomblets. This results in a non-explosive, kinetic-kill weapon with very good accuracy, where the "bullets" reach speeds of up to 1,000 feet/second. The target is destroyed without secondary explosions, or any "leftover" unexploded munitions on the ground.

Wow. But, I still want to see the orbital version...


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Comments (6)

Yes, somehow, I find that the orbital version has a bit more dramatic effect attached. Either way, good on 'em to develop these minus traditional munitions.

Reminds me of the Loonies throwing rocks at Earth in THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS

Casey Tompkins:

Hmm, I think you're right, Lach. :)

Don: I never thought of it that way, but you have a point. I would say the biggest downside to using the moon as a base would be aiming at a particular target. I haven't read that book in a while; they didn't aim at particular cities, did they?


During WWII the Air Corps used a munition called a Lazy Dog to attack airfields. Football shaped body with fins on one end, drop a load from however-many feet up and they reached ground at about 950/fps from what I read.

Apparently, an old idea that still works.

Heinlein and others did publish a proposal for such a weapon many years ago, and I believe the name of the essay contained the words "High Frontier." Try as I might, I cannot find it again, but believe me, Heinlein et all proposed it.

It's not a new idea by any stretch--not to take anything away from the co-author of "The Mote in God's Eye" but kinetic-energy weapons have been used for millenia. They were originally called "rocks." :)

Excellent blog, btw--I must blogroll you, after I determine which category you belong in :)


Victor sent the link to your place in email. Great posts, and thanks Victor.

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