Scientific FantasyWhat Will Happen if We Face an Interstellar War...

What Will Happen if We Face an Interstellar War in 2022? The Chilling Consequences Explored!

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There may be many other planets in our universe where life is present, but we do not have much evidence or sources to prove it. However, the chances of war between them and us are never zero. Is that scenario possible? What will happen if this Interstellar War takes place? We will know as we go on.

What Is An Interstellar War?

An interstellar war is a fictitious space conflict involving combatants from different planetary systems. The concept is a plot device in science fiction, particularly in the space opera subgenre.

On the other hand, intergalactic war refers to the conflict between combatants from different galaxies. In contrast, interplanetary war relates to disputes between combatants from different planets within the same planetary system.

A hypothetical conflict in which one or more belligerents are located in space is known as space warfare. Consequently, space warfare includes ground-to-space warfare, such as attacking satellites from the Earth; space-to-space warfare, such as satellites attacking satellites; and space-to-ground warfare, such as satellites attacking targets on Earth.

Thus, space warfare is a subgenre and theme of science fiction, where it is depicted with varying degrees of realism and plausibility. Despite several tests and demonstrations, as of 2022, no actual space warfare is known to have occurred. Furthermore, international treaties attempt to regulate space conflicts and limit the deployment of space weapon systems, notably nuclear weapons.

The United States Space Force (previously Air Force Space Command until 2019) is the leading American military space force. The United States Space Command, which existed from 1985 to 2002, was merged with the United States Strategic Command in 2002.

The Russian Aerospace Defence Forces took the place of the Russian Space Force beginning on December 1, 2011, but were reinstated as a part of the Russian Aerospace Forces on August 1, 2015. The Russian Space Force was founded on August 10, 1992, and became a separate section of the Russian military on June 1, 2001.

India tested an ASAT missile in 2019, becoming the fourth nation with that capability. The Defence Space Agency, or DSA, was established by the Indian government in April 2019.

Are Humans About To Cause an Interstellar War With the Outer World?

The complexity and degree of differentiation of the organisms on this planet have also increased due to evolutionary processes. As a result, a species on this planet developed sentience, consciousness, and unheard-of levels of dominance over nature through a confluence of random mutations and selection pressures.

Interstellar war
Photograph by: CaseyHolmer/ Unsplash

They became curious about other star systems’ civilizations as their technology developed. The first attack then occurred, blowing a hole in their planet at relativistic speeds from a distant, faint point of light in their sky. It wasn’t a meteor, asteroid, or comet; it was people.

Our aspirations for interstellar travel typically fall into one of two categories here on Earth:

  • We travel slowly using rocket propulsion over a distance that would take many human lifetimes.
  • We move fast if we make significant scientific advancements to reach relativistic (near-light) speeds.

Even on an unpiloted journey, these two options appeared to be the only ones. Either we follow in the footsteps of the Voyager spacecraft, taking thousands of years to travel even a single light year, or we develop some modern technology capable of advancing a spacecraft to much faster speeds. Unfortunately, the first option appears to be unacceptable, while the second seems to be unrealistic.

However, something occurred in the 2010s that has the potential to change the game. We’ve made a significant technological advancement that allows us to impart a large amount of energy to a spacecraft over a relatively long period, allowing us to accelerate it to tremendous speeds.

Are Humans Getting Close to Aliens?

Laser physics is a branch of science. The significant advancement? Lasers are now more powerful and collimated than ever, so if we put a massive array of these high-powered lasers in space. Where they won’t be affected by atmospheric dispersion, they could shine on a single target for an extended time, imparting energy and momentum until it reaches more than 10% of the speed of light.

A team of scientists explained how the solar sail concept could be combined with an advanced laser array to create a spacecraft with “laser sails” in a paper published in 2015. Theoretically, with today’s technology and incredibly light spacecraft, we could travel to the nearest stars in our solar system in a single lifetime (also known as “starchips”).

The concept is straightforward:

  • Fire this high-powered laser array at a highly reflective target.
  • Attach a very small and light micro-satellite to the sail.
  • Accelerate it to the maximum speed possible.

Solar sails are an old concept that has been around since Kepler’s time. However, using a laser sail would be a true revolution.

The benefits of this setup over others are incredible:

  • Most power/energy comes from lasers, which can be recharged rather than one-time-use rocket fuel.
  • The masses of the starship or spaceships are shallow, allowing them to be accelerated to extremely fast (near-light) speeds.
  • We can now build functional devices and send them galaxies away thanks to the development of ultra-strong, lightweight materials and the miniaturization of electronics.

Although the concept is not new, introducing new technology, which is already available and is anticipated to be available in the next two or three decades, makes this a realistic possibility.

Is This Interstellar War Between Humans and Aliens Possible?

So, we get it correct. Next, we create suitable materials to reflect enough laser light so it does not ignite the sail. Then, we collimate the lasers well enough and construct a large enough array to propel these star chip spacecraft to their intended speeds of 20% of the speed of light (60,000 km/s). Then we point them at a planet orbiting a potentially habitable star like Alpha Centauri A or Tau Ceti.

We might send several star chips to the same system to probe it and learn more about it. After all, it has been suggested that the primary scientific objective is to collect data upon arrival and transmit it back. But this strategy has three significant issues that, taken together, could amount to an interstellar war declaration.

We might send several star chips to the same system to probe it and learn more about it. After all, it has been suggested that the primary scientific objective is to collect data upon arrival and transmit it back. But this strategy has three significant issues that, taken together, could amount to an interstellar war declaration.

The first issue is that interstellar space is dense with particles, most of which move relatively slowly (at a few hundred kilometers per second) through the galaxy. So when they hit this spacecraft, they’ll rip holes in it, turning it into cosmic swiss-cheese in no time.

The second issue is that there needs to be an effective deceleration mechanism. When these spacecraft arrive at their destination, they will still travel at the same speeds they left. There will be no data collection or gentle orbital insertion. They move at the rates that they do.

Space war
Photograph by: GooKingSword/Pixabay

The third is that it is nearly impossible to aim with the level of precision required to approach (but avoid colliding with) a target planet. The Earth we seek will be within any trajectory’s “cone of uncertainty.”

How Will It Look Like When We Hit an Inhabited Planet?

More quickly than any spacecraft we’ve ever built to re-enter our atmosphere, at 60,000 km/s. It moves at a speed that is roughly 1,000 times that of the fastest meteors generated by our solar system. This chip could traverse the entire atmosphere, from space to the surface, in a matter of thousandths of a second. Only the most advanced heat shields have ever survived re-entry into our atmosphere, even at thousands of times lower speeds.

However, the relationship between speed and energy makes the situation much worse. Kinetic energy is inversely proportional to speed squared, so it has four times the energy for every speed increase. A rock that weighs 1 kg that collides with a planet moving at 60,000 km/s will produce the same amount of energy as a rock that weighs 1,000,000 kg and strikes it at 60 km/s.

Even if we reduce the size of this mass, some harm will still be done. The catastrophic effects of a planet being struck by a one-gram spacecraft traveling at 60,000 km/s are comparable to those of a world being hit by a one-ton asteroid traveling at 60 km/s, which occurs only once every ten years on Earth. Every strike would be as powerful as the impact of the Chelyabinsk meteorite on Earth, making it the most energetic collision of the decade.

What conclusions would you draw if you were an alien on this planet who was struck by these relativistic masses? You could tell that an intelligent civilization made these because they were too large and moving to have formed naturally.

Space is too ample for these to hit you accidentally; you would know that you were being deliberately targeted. Worst of all, you might assume that this civilization was evil-minded. Given the harm it would do, no kind alien would launch something so rashly and carelessly.

If we are intelligent enough to send a spacecraft to another star across the galaxy, we must also be prudent sufficient to foresee the unfavorable effects of doing so. However, we need to consider the implications of our interstellar aspirations and the technology we have to realize them to be the ones firing the first shots, possibly ever, from one inhabited planet to another.

The fact that he was the most vocal supporter of the Breakthrough Starshot represents a major cosmic inconsistency. Regarding alien contact, the cautious advocate had no problem advocating for the launch of an interstellar weapon.

It’s not the American West anymore. The last frontier is there. There will undoubtedly be mistakes as we wade into the cosmic sea for the first time. But we have to ensure that they are innocent errors made without malice.

Negligence is continuing recklessly down a dangerous path without exercising caution. If we violently disregard a species that is thousands of years older and more technologically advanced than we are, the consequences could be more severe than a simple warning. It might be the opening salvo in a disastrous interstellar conflict.

Interstellar War in Science Fiction

The central theme and focal point of science fiction is science fiction space warfare, which has its roots in both classical times and the “future war” novels of the 19th century. It is one of the most well-liked general sub-genres and science fiction themes, especially in the Modern Age, directly with franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek.

A war between planets, or more frequently between stars or galaxies, has become a standard plot device. Space warfare is a central and recurring theme in science fiction, and it is also the parent genre of the space opera, military science fiction, and space western subgenres.

The earliest fictional references, like The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells from 1898, are about interplanetary war rather than interstellar war. Using technologies that use the known laws of physics, authors like Larry Niven have created apparent interplanetary conflicts based on human colonization of the asteroid belt and outer planets.

The other planets of the Solar System are now thought to be devoid of intelligent life. Hence, science fiction writers typically propose faster-than-light drive to enable interstellar conflict. 

Since the Lensman series, the destruction of planets and stars has been a common tactic in interstellar warfare. To overcome the gravity that holds an Earth-sized planet together, a force of 1032 joules of energy, or roughly the sun’s total output in a week, would be required.

It is estimated that the destruction of Alderaan in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope requires 1.0 1038 joules of energy, millions of times more than would be essential to destroy the planet slowly. The West influenced early science-fiction pulp magazines. Both genres of stories were solicited from authors, and science fiction magazines occasionally imitated Western cover art to draw comparisons. Northwest Smith, one of the first space Western heroes, was created by C. L. Moore in the 1930s.

Also influential in the beginning were Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. Western and horror comics took the place of superhero comics in the United States in the 1940s as their appeal waned. Science-fiction themes and space Westerns gained popularity when the Comics Code Authority made horror comics unworkable in the mid-1950s.

Classic Western movies started to lose popularity in the middle of the 1960s, and Revisionist Westerns took their place. A new frontier was opened up by science-fiction shows like Star Trek and Lost in Space, and movies like Westworld breathed new life into the Western genre by incorporating science-fiction themes.

Outland’s director, Peter Hyams, claimed that because studio executives in the 1980s refused to fund a Western, he created a space Western in its place. Space operas like the Star Wars movie series also heavily drew inspiration from Westerns; in particular, Boba Fett, Han Solo, and the Mos Eisley cantina were based on Western themes. The themes and morals that Westerns previously offered were presented in these science fiction movies and television shows.

Interstellar war
Photograph by: Dino Reichmuth/Unsplash

Conclusion

Assuming it’s a war for unknown political or ideological reasons (rather than one side invading to secure habitable space for their species). Assuming we’re limited to sub-light travel and communication, interstellar war could fall within the definition of hostile planets throwing increasingly lethal junk at each other.

One species would only want to wipe out another species in a different solar system if it were out of pure paranoia that they might visit and take over your planet. The answer is no. Why even bother trying? They were unable. It’s too far away, it takes too long, and you wouldn’t arrive with enough supplies to fight a war. It’s an absurd notion.

However, if the paranoid species were insane enough to decide to take matters into their own hands, they would first send a probe to learn as much as possible about the feared species’ biology. Then, they would engineer a microbe that would spread quickly and be 100% fatal to said species and send a tiny vial of it to the planet of the victims. Done.

The problem with this paranoid strategy is that if word gets out that you did it, imagine what your other neighbors will think!

In addition, an interstellar conflict would last for decades or centuries. It would undoubtedly result in scenarios similar to the Battle of New Orleans, where fighting would continue even after a treaty had been signed because the opposing sides were still unaware of the agreement. We do not know what the future holds, so before anything happens, we have to be prepared for it.

If you liked this article, check out these others on various interesting ones like: ‘The Fascinating Influence of Indian Mythology on Science Fiction.’

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