Gaming: Space Combat #3 – Now with added realism!

Space combat as depicted below is completely silly. In reality, the distances involved, and the speed of the projectiles would be that you would only notice the slug just before it hit you (how close it is depends on how near to c (the speed of light) the slug was going.

Take this situation;

Two ships are travelling at .5 c, one due east, one due west. Their projectiles move at .9 c. They are 1 light-minute apart. (18 Million Kilometres) They fire at each other. One ship knows the other has fired 11 seconds before it hits. However, in this time it has moved 1.11 light minutes relative to the other ship (20 Million Kilometers) eastwards, and is now 27 Million Kilometres away.

If your shot is, say a hundredth of a degree too high, then you will over shoot by over 3000 kilometres. In space, you have to be accurate. In fact, it would be better to fire shells which fragmented into thousands, or millions of smaller sub-munitions in order to hit the enemy.

Looking at this, you can see that even “close” distances of only 1 light-minute mean that shooting is a tricky business, and is more statistics than gunplay.



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