Call to Arms: The International Space Station Needs Lasers

Illustration for article titled Call to Arms: The International Space Station Needs Lasers

OK, let's cut the crap here, NASA: After today's near-evacuation, it's clear that you need weapons on the International Space Station. And don't forget to put web controls so we all can play.


Seriously now: This is seriously fraked up. The ISS is almost as big as a Corellian corvette and it's up there defenseless, floating peacefully, sitting like a dinosaur-sized duck, waiting for one of the 18,000 pieces of tracked space debris to crack it open and take it down in a fiery ball of junk.

Sure, they have a escape spaceship for astronauts. In case things go bad—like they almost did today—they can jump in there and fly away before the worst happens. However, after all the money and effort put in the only human post in space, do we want to send everything to hell for a piece of orbiting crap? Wouldn't it be better to install defense mechanisms against space debris—or, ah, hmmm, alien ships!—to preserve the ISS?

Technically, there are already weapon systems that may be altered to perform this task, but this is not an easy task. We know it is not as easy as firing a laser and taking down the incoming chunk of metal with a Star Wars explosion.


There's a lot of things to be taken into account. First, you will need to detect the threat and fire from a very long distance, so the resulting effect doesn't cause any harm to the ISS itself. Then, the method to take down the object will change depending on its nature. Is it a big satellite or just a big chunk of metal from a previous collision? Does the incoming object have explosive elements inside? If the object is too big and can't be obliterated in a single shot, perhaps it would be better to have some kind of rocket that may approach the object and change its orbit by exploding near it? Perhaps some kind of emergency tug that can attach to the object and take it down?


We don't know. Whatever NASA and its international partner can come up with, they need to do it as soon as possible. Things are getting complicated up there, and this doesn't conflict with the international protocols against the militarization of space—which, in any case, are being constantly violated by the US, Russia, and China.

Click to viewThis will be a defense mechanism against space threats, and that's exactly what the ISS needs. It is just too valuable to be left there with no protection. NASA, it's time to get some pew pew action going on up there.



But the laser recoil would send the ISS into gimbal lock... or not...