Mission Of Honor – Snippet 41

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 41

“Well, fair’s fair,” Helen said judiciously. They all looked at her, and she shrugged. “Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much time watching Cathy Montaigne maneuver back home, but it occurs to me that having Thimble crawling with newsies may be the best thing that could happen.”

“Just how do you mean that?” Gervais asked. In the wrong tone, the question could have been dismissive, especially given the difference in their ages and relative seniority. As it was, he sounded genuinely curious, and she shrugged again.

“Politics is all about perceptions and understandings. I realize Cathy Montaigne’s mainly involved in domestic politics right now, but the same basic principle applies in interstellar diplomacy. If you control the terms of the debate, the advantage is all on your side. You can’t make somebody on the other side make the decision you want, but you’ve got a much better chance of getting her to do that if she’s got to defend her position in the public mind instead of you having to defend your position. Controlling the information — and especially the public perception of that information — is one of the best ways to limit her options to the ones most favorable to your own needs. Don’t forget, if the Sollies want a formal declaration of war, all it takes is one veto by a full member star system to stop them. That’s a pretty significant prize for a PR campaign to go after. And, at the moment, the way we want to control the debate is simply to tell the truth about what happened at New Tuscany, right?”

Gervais nodded, and she shrugged a third time.

“Well, if all the newsies in the universe are here in Spindle getting our side of the story, looking at the sensor data we’ve released, and interviewing our people, that’s what’s going to be being reported back on Old Terra. They can try to spin it any way they want, but the basic message getting sent back to all those Sollies — even by their own newsies — is going to be built on what they’re finding out here, from us.”

“That’s more or less what Minister Krietzmann says,” Helga admitted, “although he’s prone to use some pretty colorful adjectives to describe the newsies in question.”

“I think Lady Gold Peak would agree, too, even if she is doing her dead level best to stay as far away from them as possible,” Gervais said, and Abigail and Helen nodded. As Michelle Henke’s flag lieutenant, he was in a far better position to form that kind of judgment than either of them were.

“What about Sir Aivars?” Helga asked. Helen, who was Sir Aivars Terekhov’s flag lieutenant, raised both eyebrows at her, and Helga snorted. “He may be only a commodore, Helen, but everybody in the Quadrant knows how long he spent in the diplomatic service before he went back into uniform. Besides, Mr. Van Dort and the rest of the Prime Minister’s cabinet all have enormous respect for him.”

“We haven’t actually discussed it,” Helen replied after a moment. “On the other hand, he’s passed up at least half a dozen opportunities I can think of to hide aboard the Jimmy Boy to avoid interviews, so I’d say he was doing his bit to shape public opinion.”

Gervais grinned as she used the crew’s nickname for HMS Quentin Saint-James. The brand-new Saganami-C-class heavy cruiser had been in commission for barely five months, yet she’d had her official nickname almost before the commissioning ceremonies concluded. Most ships wouldn’t have managed the transition that quickly, but in Quentin Saint-James’ case things were a bit different. Her name was on the RMN’s List of Honor, to be kept in permanent commission, and the nickname was the same one which had been applied to the first Quentin Saint-James the better part of two T-centuries ago.

And if “Jimmy Boy” was a youngster, she was scarcely alone in that. In fact, aside from Admiral Khumalo’s ancient superdreadnought flagship Hercules, there wasn’t a single ship heavier than a light cruiser in Admiral Gold Peak’s Tenth Fleet which was even a full year old yet. Indeed, most of the destroyers were no older than Quentin St. James and her sisters.

“Well,” Helga said after a moment, “I imagine the Minister will go right on ‘doing his bit’, too. Don’t expect him to like it, though.”

“Some things are more likely than others,” Helen agreed. Then she snorted.

“What?” Abigail asked.

“Nothing.” Abigail looked skeptical, and Helen chuckled. “All right, I was just thinking about how the first newsy to shove his microphone in Daddy’s face would make out. I’m sure Daddy would be sorry afterwards. He’d probably even insist on paying the medical bills himself.”

“I wondered where you got that physically violent disposition of yours,” Gervais said blandly.

“I am not physically violent!”

“Oh, no?” He did his best to look down his longitude-challenged nose at her. “You may recall that I was sent over to Quentin Saint-James with that note from Lady Gold Peak to the Commodore last week?” She looked at him suspiciously, then nodded. “Well, I just happened to wander by the gym while I was there and I saw you throwing people around the mat with gay abandon.”

“I wasn’t!” she protested with a gurgle of laughter.

“You most certainly were. One of your henchmen told me you were using something called the ‘Flying Mare’s Warhammer of Doom, Destruction, and Despair.'”

“Called the what?” Helga looked at Helen in disbelief.

“It’s not called any such thing, and you know it!” Helen accused, doing her best to glare at Gervais.

“I don’t know about that,” he said virtuously. “That’s what I was told it was called.”

“Okay,” Abigail said. “Now you’ve got to tell us what it’s really called, Helen!”

“The way he’s mangled it, even I don’t know which one it was!”

“Well, try to sort it out.”

“I’m guessing — and that’s all it is, you understand — that it was probably a combination of the Flying Mare, the Hand Hammer, and — maybe — the Scythe of Destruction.”

“And that’s supposed to be better than what he just said?” Abigail looked at her in disbelief. Abigail herself had become proficient in coup de vitesse, but she’d never trained in Helen’s chosen Neue-Stil Handgemenge. “Coup de vitesse doesn’t even have names for most of its moves, but if it did, it wouldn’t have those!”

“Look, don’t blame me,” Helen replied. “The people who worked this stuff out in the first place named the moves, not me! According to Master Tye, they were influenced by some old entertainment recordings. Something called ‘movies.'”

“Oh, Tester!” Abigail shook her head. “Forget I said a thing!”

“What?” Helen looked confused, and Abigail snorted.

“Up until Lady Harrington did some research back home in Manticore — I think she even queried the library computers in Beowulf and on Old Terra, as a matter of fact — nobody on Grayson had ever actually seen the movies our ancestors apparently based their notions of swordplay on. Now, unfortunately, we have. And fairness requires that I admit most of the ‘samurai movies’ were at least as silly as anything the Neue-Stil people could have been watching.”

“Well, my ancestors certainly never indulged in anything that foolish,” Gervais said with an air of unbearable superiority.

“Want to bet?” Abigail inquired with a dangerous smile.

“Why?” he asked distrustfully.

“Because if I remember correctly, your ancestors came from Old North America — from the Western Hemisphere, at least — just like mine did.”

“And?”

“And while Lady Harrington was doing her research on samurai movies, she got some cross hits to something called ‘cowboy movies.’ So she brought them along, too. In fact, she got her uncle and his friends in the SCA involved in putting together a ‘movie festival’ in Harrington Steading. Quite a few of those movies were made in a place called Hollywood, which also happens to have been in Old North America. Some of them were actually darned good, but others –” She shuddered. “Trust me, your ancestors and mine apparently had . . . erratic artistic standards, let’s say.”

“That’s all very interesting, I’m sure,” Gervais said briskly, “but it’s leading us astray from the truly important focus we ought to be maintaining on current events.”

“In other words,” Helga told Abigail, “he’s losing the argument, so he’s changing the rules.”

“Maybe he is,” Helen said. “No, scratch that — he definitely is. Still, he may have a point. It’s not like any of us are going to be in a position to make any earth shattering decisions, but between us, we’re working for several people who will be. Under the circumstances, I don’t think it would hurt a bit for us to share notes. Nothing confidential, but the kind of general background stuff that might let me answer one of the Commodore’s questions without his having to get hold of someone in Minister Krietzmann’s office or someone on Lady Gold Peak’s staff, for instance.”

“That’s actually a very good point,” Gervais said much more seriously, nodding at her in approval, and she felt a glow of satisfaction. She was preposterously young and junior for her current assignment, but at least she seemed to be figuring out how to make herself useful.

“I agree,” Abigail said, although as the tactical officer aboard one of the new Roland-class destroyers she was the only person at the table who wasn’t a flag lieutenant or someone’s personal aide, and gave Helen a smile.

“Well, in that case,” Gervais said, “have you guys heard about what Lady Gold Peak is planning to do to Admiral Oversteegen?”

* * *

“It’s time, Admiral,” Felicidad Kolstad said.

“I know,” Admiral Topolev of the Mesan Alignment Navy replied.

He sat once more upon MANS Mako’s flag bridge. Beyond the flagship’s hull, fourteen more ships of Task Group 1.1, kept perfect formation upon her, and the brilliant beacon of Manticore-A blazed before them. They were only one light-week from that star, now, and they’d decelerated to only twenty percent of light-speed. This was the point for which they’d been headed ever since leaving Mesa four T-months before. Now it was time to do what they’d come here to do.

“Begin deployment,” he said, and the enormous hatches opened and the pods began to spill free.

The six units of Task Group 1.2 were elsewhere, under Rear Admiral Lydia Papnikitas, closing on Manticore-B. They wouldn’t be deploying their pods just yet, not until they’d reached their own preselected launch point. Topolev wished he’d had more ships to commit to that prong of the attack, but the decision to move up Oyster Bay had dictated the available resources, and this prong had to be decisive. Besides, there were fewer targets in the Manticore-B subsystem, anyway, and the planners had had to come up with the eight additional Shark-class ships for Admiral Colenso’s Task Group 2.1’s Grayson operation from somewhere.

It’ll be enough, he told himself, watching as the pods disappeared steadily behind his decelerating starships, vanishing into the endless dark between the stars. It’ll be enough. And in about five weeks, the Manties are going to get a late Christmas present they’ll never forget.

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57 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 41

  1. Lord Blackmane says:

    We’ve all grown so used to Impeller speeds that Spider ships seem to just crawl. They’re almost in the system already but it’s still going to take forever for Pearl…Oyster Bay to hit. I do wonder if Grayson is going to scrape through this again. They’ve only fought off every other attack thrown their way in twelve books.

  2. Mike says:

    Sounds like he’s already setting up an escape clause for Manticore-B.

  3. robert says:

    I hate this. DW is so good at this. He has this almost carefree scene in the restaurant, and meanwhile, he switches to this horror about to happen. Makes me want to cover my eyes.

    My guess is that the attacks will be totally successful. They have to be for the story to move to the point that Weber wants it to be, which is Manticore weakened and dependent on its allies, which ought to soon include Haven, by gosh; the SL shown to be a paper tiger and so susceptible to defections, which defections Mesa and company grab up. Or something like that. Or I am all wet.

    But I agree with some earlier posts that the name Oyster Bay presupposes a successful sneak attack.

  4. jess says:

    I think they should have did minimal repairs to a bunch (10?) Haven SDs, equipped them with skeleton crews and BC missiles, and sent them to Spindle, as a deterrent. It would appear to be a fleet of SDs, but that’s only from the outside.

    If Manticore could fake up a Moriarty system, that could run the SDs remotely.

  5. Lars says:

    @4 trust me, the solution for that lesser spindle problem is in place and fantastic
    @3 be happy for the last sentence in MoH.

  6. Michael says:

    @3
    Pearl Habor – Oyster Bay !!! I only got that just now. :-(

    @all
    Only the Attack on Manticore has to be succssesfull for Manticore to be totaly depentend on its Alleis.
    So, in that regard, the attack on Grayson dosn’t have to be succssesfull.

    And, have you actualy thought about it, the method to beat those stealth systems is to deploy many sensor drones. That way you get a read on ships from different angles. Some calculations later …. puuuff. Ship detected.
    So, there is a chance that the Oyster Bay ships are detected as they come near there objectiv. Maybe enough to get missel defens going.

  7. Thirdbase says:

    @ #4 Jess, have you ever seen the Mythbusters attempt to drive a car remotely? Now imagine trying to run something that has a crew of thousands remotely. The Moriarty platform was just a massive fire control base.

  8. Martin says:

    The attack on Pearl Harbour was a failure. Oh it inflicted lots of damage to be sure, but it failed in it’s primary objective which was the destruction of the American carriers as they were out at sea… Oh, hang on a sec, isn’t Eighth Fleet off on a trip to Haven.

  9. Thirdbase says:

    OB’s target isn’t 8th Fleet, but the shipyards and other support structures.

  10. Mark L says:

    @4 1. Manticore doesn’t need obsolete Havanite to defend Spindle. Based on what’s been released already and the battle in Storm out of the Shadow, Crandle will be toast. Badly burned toast.

    2. Maticore’s problem is not ships, and has not been for some time. It is manpower. They already have so many ships that they are decommissioning old ones to staff the new construction. If Manticore could fake up a Moriarity system they would still be better off using decommissioned Manticorean ships and the old orbital fortifications to run them than Haven prizes.

    (What *is* the obssession with the prizes? Geeze.)

  11. robert says:

    While Manticore’s problem has been manpower up until now, if one looks at the cover of the book (usually signifying nothing, I agree) one sees a space station being destroyed. If all of the Manticore A and B space facilities, including shipyards and other manufacturing facilities, are blown away, then they will have other problems, even worse than lack of manpower: no missile manufacturing capability and no shipbuilding capability and no repair facilities. Not in the Manticore system, anyway. And with the prior destruction of Grendelsbane, probably nothing of consequence anywhere else.

    Perhaps worse than the physical plant loss is the potential loss of the skilled people aboard the space-based facilities. Those will be tragic and irreplaceable in the short- to medium-term. And the economic blow could be fatal with all the civilian manufacturing gone, as well.

    And finally the effect on morale. We know what Pearl Harbor’s effect was (everybody screaming “where’s the navy” for months): first shock then the nations leaders rallying the country to engage. But this is likely to be something that is almost incomprehensible. Debris hitting planets (see cover again) and killing civilians, wiping out families. We don’t even know yet what morale will be like.

  12. hank says:

    Don’t get too carried away with the Pearl Harbour parallel. Pearl was very much a second class base, the main bases for the US Pacific Fleet in ’41 were on the West Coast. Manticore’s equivalent of San Diego etc is right there in orbit.
    That said, Pearl was more of a morale victory than anything else. Aside form the missing carriers the repair facilitys were barely hit, while the sub base and the (above ground) oil tank farm were mostly untouched. Result was that the damaged ships were patched up enough to be sent off to the mainland to be repaired (of the battleships “sunk” only Arizona, Oklahoma & Utah [which had already been demoted to Target Ship] did not return to service) and almost all of the smaller ships were back in service in months. Of 96 ships at Pearl on 17/7/41 less than 10 were permanantly disabled. In spite of the (now) well-known problems with the detonators on the torpedoes the US started the war with, US subs were sinking Japanese shipping within weeks, even making it into the Sea of Japan by April of ’42! (the Silent Service gets far too little credit in most books on WWII)
    And if the Imperial Navy had bothered to dump a few strings of incindaries across the tank farm, Pearl would have ceased to be a viable base for months, perhaps even a year.
    So mostly the result was to really piss off the US. We still blew the guts out of the Imperial Navy within less than a year (Coral Sea, Midway & the Naval Battle(s) of Guadalcanal.)

  13. justdave says:

    “as the pods disappeared steadily behind his decelerating starships”

    unless the pods have their own undetectable drives and are at a higher deceleration, the ships should be falling behind the pods

    of course MWW can play w/Newton, Einstein, etc as he will (and does!)

  14. turol says:

    @13
    In impeller-drive pod-layers the pod bay opens aft and when the ship is decelerating the aft aspect is facing the way the ship is going. Any pods that are dropped from the bay will continue with the ship’s current velocity so from the ship’s point of view the pods are “falling behind”. Apparently spider drive has similar restrictions when it comes to the direction of acceleration and so the pod bay has been also placed aft and the pods appear to fall behind the same way.

  15. justdave says:

    @14 agreed

    but my point is, this section starts out with the frame of reference stated as moving in system, altho decelerating, not the orientation of the ship

    far be it from me to suggest MWW might consider a little wordsmithing here

  16. 4th Dimension says:

    Actualy that captain says they already STOPPED decelerated. So what that means is their speed is constant, so there is no way for pods to fall behind, seeing as as soon as they get released they get ships speed. Unless they have their own methods of deceleration.

    Also if they are a light week from the star, traveling straight for it at speed of .2c that means in 5 weeks those pods will travel t*v=5 weeks * .2 c = 1lightweek, meaning those pods will be real close to the star. Or in other words (considering that Earth is only 8 light minutes from Sun), either within knife fighting distance of Manticore (meaning manties will have mere couple of MINUTES in best case scenario to react), OR better yet, they will be firing from the direction of the Sun, thus partially blinding Manty sensors.

  17. Martin says:

    The Pearl analogy is pretty much just to demonstrate a sneak attack on an unsuspecting foe. Pearl was a strategic failure as it did not meet all of its objectives. I suspect that Oyster Bay will be the same. Horribly unpleasant and undoubtably costly for the good guys but not the knock-out punch it’s presumably intended to be. And personally I’m not sure the idea of Eigth Fleet wandering about would bring comfort to the enemies of Manticore as it can still make mincemeat out of pretty much any fleet in space. War is fought by human beings it was said once in the series I believe. Even when horribly outnumbered getting an enemy to sail into the kind of casualties Eight Fleet could inflict would not be an easy task and would have a pretty nasty impact on someones morale.

  18. Thirdbase says:

    @ hank,

    I remember reading a book that included an interview with a US Admiral that had discussed Pearl Harbor with surviving Japanese strategic planners and the Admiral had asked why the fuel tanks hadn’t been hit. The response was that they assumed that the US had more fuel than it knew what to do with and that “little” amount wouldn’t change anything.

    While Pearl may not have been as good as San Diego or San Francisco, if the Japanese had destroyed the drydocks and other maintainence facilities, it would have been a different war. At Midway there would have been just 2 instead of the 3 carriers, and all of the other battle damaged ships would have had to travel to the west coast for repairs. The US would still have won, but it would have taken longer and been more deadly.

    @ 4D,
    It doesn’t say they had stopped decelerating, only that they had decelerated to .2C, their velocity when they deployed the pods.

  19. 4th Dimension says:

    Than it’s even wierder, because pods will be dumped with less and less speed. They will literally start overtaking their mother-ships and their brethren dumped after them. And that should introduce the low but possible, possibility of collision.

    And how are they deaccelerating while pointing towards the star. Unless Spider drive has an actual reverse, which in space is pretty much useless.

  20. Robert Krawitz says:

    @4th, it makes perfect sense, and thtere’s no risk of a collision.

    The pods are on a ballistic trajectory. They’ve been dropped off the stern. All the ships have to do is accelerate forward (which means *away* from the star) slightly and the separation will increase.

  21. John Roth says:

    @16 4th Dimension

    The Battle of Torch was fought at approximately 10 m km, which is very roughly 30 light seconds. That’s very roughly the limit for powered flight for an MDM, depending on the model and how many stages it has. Flight time was roughly 3 and a half minutes. If there happened to be ships in position, it might be possible to power up and crank out anti-missile fire in that time frame, but the odds are really against it.

    Since they’re going against fixed defenses, the closer they can get before firing up the missile drives, the better its going to be for the attacker.

    , unless there happen to be ships out there doing exercises and in the right position.

  22. Daryl says:

    @19 I have to agree with Robert Krawitz on 20, am struggling to see your point and see what’s the difficulty. If the ships have decelerated to 0.2c relative to Maticore and release the pods then the pods will be traveling at 0.2c towards Manticore, while the ships accelerate away from Manticore further reducing their velocity below 0.2c relative to Manticore. The Spider drive simply accelerates the ships back 180 degrees to their previous course.
    @10 Mark L, I agree with your assessment logically but I think that those objecting to the scrapping have a problem understanding that hundreds of formidable warships are now useless, when just one in our time and place would rule our solar system.

  23. Grant says:

    I have issues with what I’m perceiving as the Mesan strategy here… so, these pods are just supposed to all go hurtling in on ballistic trajectories until they reach range, then light up and fire?

    Ok… so, as far as I know Mesa doesn’t have Manticore’s missile range but let’s say they did and John is right about the powered flight envelope being about 10M km.

    So… you’re aiming at a 20M km spherical target to shoot your pods through if you want them to be able to engage under power. A *moving* target… although it’s moving on a constant ballistic path so it’s not like it’ll jink or anything.

    They’re shooting at this target from a light WEEK out? BALLISTICALLY?

    That means that any of those pods that deviates from a perfect flight path by more than roughly one ten thousandth of one degree is going to fly by outside their powered engagement range. Now maybe they have thrusters or something and on-board targetting systems to correct the pod flight path and improve their odds of actually putting those pods on target… but that’s still a hell of a shot they’re supposed to be making. And if the pods go to active maneuvering I imaging that increases their odds of detection. Even if the locals aren’t explicitly looking for something like this coming at them they’ve got to have some kind of asteroid-tracking system or something to look out for rocks flying in that close to their planet that would see a bunch of chunks of metals firing thruster exhaust hurtling straight at them in time to do something unpleasant to those pods.

    And if they’re not maneuvering? If these guys put any significant number of pods on target in that case they’re the best marksmen in the freaking universe.

    And as for them decelerating while deploying… they better not be decelerating much or they’re going to end up having the first pods fly through the engagement envelope before the last pods even enter it, even relatively small velocity differentials are going to produce very large dispersions over 5 weeks. And it’s not exactly going to be a terribly concentrated volley of fire.

    I guess my main point here would be… what the hell are they deploying from a light week out for???

  24. Daryl says:

    @23 Grant, the pods aren’t decelerating, the Spider drive starships that dropped them off are, in order to get out of the area which will become some what unfriendly in five weeks time.

  25. John Roth says:

    @23 Grant

    What Daryl said.

    In addition, remember that they’ve placed control platforms that will take control of the missiles at the end of their run, so it’s not like they’re trying to hit Hephastus station on ballistic. The other thing to remember is that these are probably some model of Cataphract, so they’ll have two stages, the second one of which is an anti-missile missile that has literally insane acceleration.

    A light week is about 1,000 AU, so I’d agree that they’re going to come in with a significant dispersion. What they have to do is cluster tightly enough so that they don’t need too long a ballistic flight path — the longer the ballistic path, the more time the target has to react.

    However, the second stage is an anti-missile missile, so it’s got a much higher acceleration and shorter time than they’re used to. One wonders how much intel the Maya Sector shared with Erewhon, Haven and Manticore about the Cataphracts.

  26. tootall says:

    Gotta believe that the Evil Overlords know enough history to have read about Pearl…so I have to assume they will not make the same mistakes and will take out all the infrastructure stuff that the Imperial navy missed. And I’d also assume that there’s a huge unintended consequence in there somewhere, which will astound and confound the above discribed Evil Overlords(and DW’s ever eagar readers).

    On another note…does anyone know when the NEXT books (Safehold-Honorverse)will be out?

  27. Thirdbase says:

    It is entirely possible, even probable, that the pods have an onboard guidance package and small chemical thrusters to keep them on target.

  28. Daryl says:

    @26 tootall, My guess is that the unintended consequence is – Pritchard will offer Elizabeth a full coalition, military support, and use of Bolthole to fight their common enemy. An analogy would be how the USA population reacted after Pearl Harbour with outrage and determination (as Yamamoto the PH planner predicted and warned his bosses about) unlike the “decadent Westerner collapse of morale” that the Japanese High Command wrongly predicted.

  29. robert says:

    @26 Re Next Books. Somebody posted on the Bar and on the Honorverse Forum at davidweber.net that Weber tweeted that he was about to start on the sequel to Storm From the Shadows. And here I thought that this book was that sequel. Frankly, sequel means nothing anymore because the paths seem to be joined. It sounded like he knew exactly what he was going to be writing so it should not take long to write. My guess: The Storm book has just come out in paperback so I expect that when Mission is out in paperback, around January 2011, we will start seeing snippets of the new book. Or not. There is supposed to be an anthology coming out as well. And a book signing tour in June-July coming right up.

    Meanwhile he had just been copyediting the fantasy book that he did for TOR, and that will be out before vol. 5 of Safehold. All this is on Weber’s site and in the Honorverse thingy on the Bar.

  30. Grant says:

    I’m pretty sure when I exclaimed in capital letters that they were sending the pods in ballistically it was understood the pods weren’t decelerating. Really not the point. The point is having the pods actually end up anywhere NEAR Hephaestus so they can actually, you know, shoot at it from inside their powered missile envelope.

    And when you’re just flinging the pods in from a *light week* away your aim has to be pretty damn impossibly good to do that without having the pods actively performing course correction. Just getting them within 10 million km of a target sounds easy… and it would be easy… if they weren’t hurling the things into the system from 181 TRILLION kilometers away. Which is where they are right now. Then we’re talking about hitting a damn near microscopic bullseye. Like I said… at that range if you have one ten thousandth of a degree deviation from a perfect flight trajectory you’re going to miss by over 10 million kilometers.

    My comment about decelerating while deploying was about the ships decelerating. If they’re decelerating while deploying then every pod they release has a velocity differential relative to the pod released before it. And they have 5 weeks of flight time ahead of them. That means if that velocity differential is of any real significance the dispersion of the pods when they reach the end of their flight time would be massive. So the ships better be decelerating really, really, really gradually if they want those pods to produce anything resembling a mass volley at the end of this.

    And if anyone is thinking the plan is to just get the pods into the system any old place, have them fire off a volley of MDMs from tens of millions of kms away that can accelerate on target with their first stage drives, then go ballistic, then light up their second stages once they’re in range… they might as well just light off a giant neon sign saying “Hey! Manticore Home System Defenses! Please kill all our missiles! Pretty please?”

    If that’s the plan and the system defenses don’t eat those missiles for breakfast with that much flight time to get countermeasures initiated, missile tracks plotted, and counter-missiles in the air… I’m going to be extremely disappointed.

    But either way, I simply cannot conceive of why they needed to deploy pods this far out.

    And Darryl, what do you mean “get out of the area”? They’re not IN the area. They’re way the hell and gone outside the system now, what are they worried about? Using the Sol system as a reference point and defining the outer boundary of the “system” as, say, Pluto… an entire solar system is only about half a light day in radius. They’re a light WEEK away for cripes sake.

    John… you seem to be suggesting the missiles are being fired from all the way out here with their first stage drives… that would just be insane. Why burn an entire drive from your missile from a light week away when there’s no chance in hell the majority of those missiles would end up remotely near close enough to reach a target by the time their second stages kicked off? The plan has to be to let the pods take them all the way in, then launch a mass volley. Which is still a bad plan… but better than firing the missiles from all the way out here and hoping the individually manage to somehow end up anywhere near a viable target a week from now when they only have ONE drive of maneuvering range left.

  31. Grant says:

    Sorry… that’s obviously 5 weeks from now in that last sentence.

  32. Daryl says:

    @30 Grant we are all on the same side & I’m not looking at starting our own flaming war. My understanding is that the Spider drive ships are all deploying pods ballistically at 0.2c at calculated intervals that will enable them to ALL reach the targets at the same time (using 24 century computers to calculate it – no “You have performed an illegal act” Windows 98 stuff), then after the releases the ships decelerate. If in doubt check out some of the current astronomical guidance systems being used to align telescopes that meet those precision targets now. Using the other drive systems which are different to Spider but actually better in some ways the Manticore pickets will quickly after OB be all over the area that the pods were dropped (be it seven solar system radii or not, although in one plotted direction) so the Mesans need to be well away after OB happens. I agree with you that the ballistic aspect needs to be spot on but hey once again it’s 4 centuries ahead & guidance systems must have evolved. By the way it’s Daryl not Darryl as my parents couldn’t afford the second r.

  33. Thirdbase says:

    Dayl, (I couldn’t afford 1 r :) )

    That would be 40th century computers, and 20 centuries ahead with guidance systems etc. It’s 4024CE or so.

  34. Daryl says:

    Thanks Thirdbase, I was only out by a factor of ten (combination of age & single malt). The old adage of computers double in capability (speed, memory) every 18 months would indicate that a physical limit is reached well before the sixth millennium when you consider the cumulative factor.

  35. Robert Krawitz says:

    @Grant, the range is off by a factor of 1000 — it’s 181 billion km, not 181 trillion. So the necessary accuracy is 1 part in 18000 (+/- 1/500 degree, or about 7 seconds of arc) for a 10 million km circle of error. That’s pretty good accuracy, but nothing terribly outrageous, especially with flight times that are too short to be affected to any significant degree by gravity and no atmosphere to throw things off. Real world ICBM inertial guidance systems supposedly have about 100 m error over several thousand km, which is within an order of magnitude of that accuracy.

  36. Daryl says:

    @35 Robert Krawitz, thanks for some objective engineering hard work to sort this out.

  37. 4th Dimension says:

    So NOW everybody thinks those ships stopped deaccelerating. And I got burned up there when I said the same thing.

    And I’m still not convinced they could target those pods that easily. They MIGHT orient their ships correctly, but that is only half of the problem. Their ACTUAL speed vector would have to be within arctan(10 000 000/(3600*24*7))= 0,00316 of a degree.
    It will require some REAL fine adjustments.

  38. Robert Krawitz says:

    @4th, I think that that sounds harder than it is (much less will be in 2000 years).

    Velocity relative to the star shouldn’t be a difficult problem at all, assuming it even matters (which I don’t think it does here to any particularly great accuracy). All you have to do is look at the blue shift of, say, the hydrogen alpha spectral line. At these distances, there’s no gravitational lensing to worry about, so it basically just amounts to a Doppler shift. We already have Doppler radars easily capable of measuring velocities in the meter/second range; 1 m/s error over 5 weeks would mean about 3000 km offset in arrival range — for missile pods traveling at .2c that’s .05 seconds. Something showing up 50 milliseconds early or late isn’t going to matter, especially since the missiles have powered terminal guidance with some ridiculous deltaV capability. In any case, we’re already detecting planets around much more distant stars by (among other things) detecting tiny radial velocity fluctuations of the primary star caused by the center of gravity offset by planet(s), so getting the inertial velocity correct is something I think we could already do today.

    The hard part is the directional vector (ship orientation); that has to be precise +/- .002 degree or whatnot. Correcting lateral errors is much more difficult. If the pod’s directional vector is .01 degree off (1 part in 9000), its lateral velocity is .000111 of its total velocity. That doesn’t sound like much, but its total velocity is 60000 km/sec; it would need an initial correction of 6 km/sec — that can be done easily enough with chemical thrusters, but it has to be done right away. If it isn’t done right away, the correction required rapidly grows. However, I don’t think getting this kind of accuracy is likely to prove very challenging even with today’s technology — we’re already doing much more difficult things with space probes and we have been for over 30 years (think the Pioneer and Voyager probes, which utilized multiple gravitational slingshots between planets).

  39. robert says:

    This is a great discussion. I am impressed with the math, which will take me all day to work out. Thanks!

    There is one more thing to remember. They are not just aiming at one station (Hephaestus), but at every construct in the double star system’s orbits…and they don’t mind if there is a bit of an EE violation. From some snerks and a well known snippet that DW posted several months ago, we know there will be planetary hits. Well planned ones.

    Mesa’s goal is to destroy Manticore economically and militarily.

  40. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Robert, from that snippet Mesa isn’t concerned about EE violations caused by the results of their attack. They are concerned about direct hits by their missiles on the planets.

    The planetary hits aren’t ‘well planned’ by Mesa but are ‘well planned’ by David Weber. [Wink]

  41. 4th Dimension says:

    @38. Second paragraph. That’s what I was talking about. It’s easy to point a ship in certain direction. But that doesn’t mean it’s actually heading that0,3309 way.

    At first I thought this kind of targeting is impossible (likely because in my first calculations, calculated angle was a LOT smaller), but later i recalculated and found that they would only need to do lateral corrections as precise as (let’s take they want precision tenth of the angle of the max error). Max Error angle 0,00316. It’s tenth is 0,000316. Needed speed to correct tenth of the angle 0,00316 is cos(0,000316)*speed= 0,000005515*60 000 km/s =0,3309 km/s, or in other terms 1191,24 km/h or better yet 330 m/s. That can be achieved with a burst of 1s of acceleration of 33G. Mightily fine (for a space civilization used to hundreds of G being normal acceleration). That is if I didn’t make a mistake somewhere.

    That being said I wouldn’t want to be the astro-navigator that had to calculate all this, or the helmsman that had to maneuver ship so. Navigator would probably have to account for loads of stuff that are usually all disregarded, like grav pull of other planets and loads of other finicky stuff.

  42. Robert Krawitz says:

    Gravity pull of planets doesn’t matter here. At 60000 km/sec, you’re only going to be near another planet for a few seconds, not enough to acquire any significant delta-V. Maybe 10 m/s, but then they only have a few hundred seconds travel time, maybe they’ll be off by a few km. And that’s assuming a close pass to a major planet — very unlikely, particularly if they’re above the ecliptic to begin with.

  43. Robert Krawitz says:

    And also, note that this navigation and helmsmanship problem is a lot simpler than wet navigation — there are no storms, ocean currents, wind, etc. to throw the calculations off.

  44. Summertime says:

    Cheese and crackers got all muddy! This juvenile squabbling over tech details takes up twice or three times the space as the actual snippet! This is the Weber fan base? He must be crying in his beer!

  45. robert says:

    @44 Summertime, if you think this is bad, you should see the unending tech stuff that goes on at Weber’s site’s Forums. This is nothing, especially since they are all in basic agreement, but just for the sake of argument… Fortunately I can’t find my old cheat sheets from JPL and Rocketdyne. I cannot complain or I might be the next thing my wife throws out.

    @40 Drak. I did not read it that way. If you are talking about the famous “Salamander” snippet and the treecat snerk, which is all I saw.

  46. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Sorry about that, I was thinking of a different snippet.

    Has anybody else seen the one that ends with the following and has it been posted here in Eric’s place?

    We won’t reach that far into this book.

    Quote

    “What?”

    Andrew LaFollet snapped upright in his seat, one hand pressed to his earbug.

    End Quote

  47. Grant says:

    Leaving aside questions of exactly how difficult aiming the shot from this far out is for a moment (I am willing to concede it’s probably easier than I thought at first glance, although I still think their accuracy getting the pods into decent firing position should be all kinds of crappy)… that still doesn’t tell me why the heck they’re doing it from way out there in the first place.

    Does anyone seriously want to argue that letting the pods go from, say, a light day out… and “only” having about 5 days to escape the area before the pods reached attack range and fired, would put the Mesan force at any kind of legitimate risk of getting caught?

    So why make the job so much ridiculously more difficult than it has to be? What is the thinking here supposed to be? After the war is over do they want to be able to put their names down in the future edition of Guiness for “longest range attack ever executed” and not have anyone take their title away for a good long time?

  48. Robert Krawitz says:

    For one, as I said, I don’t think that this is actually that difficult of a problem — we’ve already solved much more difficult targeting problems IRL.

    One light day is only about 25 billion KM — that’s likely to be Kuiper Belt range for that kind of star, and I could well believe that Manty sensors extend that far. Starting from farther out both reduces the risk of detection and reduces the risk of anything being found even if some weird blip is detected.

  49. John Roth says:

    @44 Summertime

    No, he’s laughing all the way to the bank. This is the kind of thing you’ll see on the Bar and at the Weber forum.

    @46 Drak

    I haven’t seen it, and I doubt if it would be posted here anyway.

  50. Drak Bibliophile says:

    John, since it was posted by David in Snerker’s Only, I’m nervous about posting it here.

    Now if David Weber had posted in the Honorverse, I’d post it here.

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