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Those of you who are not yet familiar with Project Pluto can read about it here; http://www.merkle.com/pluto/pluto.html. You may then pay penance for not knowing about Pluto.

 

In any case, I've heard various conflicting reasons for Pluto's cancellation (aside from the whole 'shitting radiation' aspect). I've seen some sources that say it would have been too easy to intercept, while I've seen others that say it would have been impossible to intercept, and the US was worried that Pluto would have prompted the Soviets to create a similar weapon (whether they could have without the industrial might of Coors corporation is debatable).

 

Given that Pluto would have travelled at Mach 3-4 at extremely low level, I think it would have been quite difficult to intercept. Look down shoot-down technology was in its infancy in the late 60s (I think the radar set for the XF-108/YF-12 was one of the first sets with any such capability), and given that Pluto would have probably entered Soviet territory via northern Siberia, it probably could have been programmed to fly between fixed radar sites (which would have had lower range against low altitude targets). Also, even it if was detected, you still have to chase down (or gain favorable angles against) a target going Mach 3, which is a nontrivial task. If you're willing to use nuclear tipped AAMs, it's probably doable.

 

What sayeth y'all?

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Never mind look down shoot down, how are you going to get the first spot to get the birds in the air?

 

I'm a first church of high and fast man, but low and fast is even worse.

 

On the other hand making it actually work would be crazy. I have a feeling dealing with something shitting radiation is even worse when you're trying to deal with making it work as intended. Add in a good deal of MacNamoronic decisions and it's not a good time for a manned plane period, let alone one cruising for a troublesome development cycle.

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The best I've been able to come up with if I could tailor a defense specifically to that threat is helped considerably by the very low bar for a system that does less damage than PLUTO. Defense in depth by nuclear devices a bit above the ground trying to swat the things out of the air would actually make sense in a great number of places because it would be less destructive than letting them through.

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I would imagine that testing Pluto would have involved major hippie backlash that would have been absolute hell for whoever was president at the time. Any nuclear test after Castle Bravo really gave a lot of the public a poor image on nuclear weapons. Could good 'ole politics been the reason why Pluto was dropped?

 

When I first saw this thread I thought it was about making Pluto a dwarf planet forever. I get annoyed by people wanting to make it a planet. It never was a real planet. 

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I would imagine that testing Pluto would have involved major hippie backlash that would have been absolute hell for whoever was president at the time. Any nuclear test after Castle Bravo really gave a lot of the public a poor image on nuclear weapons. Could good 'ole politics been the reason why Pluto was dropped?

 

When I first saw this thread I thought it was about making Pluto a dwarf planet forever. I get annoyed by people wanting to make it a planet. It never was a real planet. 

 

Honestly I'd imagine there'd also be major backlash from burgeoning demographic groups such as leukemia patients and future leukemia patients.

 

If Pluto is a planet we get to memorize hundreds of planets because the categorization no longer makes sense.

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Honestly I'd imagine there'd also be major backlash from burgeoning demographic groups such as leukemia patients and future leukemia patients.

 

If Pluto is a planet we get to memorize hundreds of planets because the categorization no longer makes sense.

  

You sure? I thought they would die pretty quick.

The point why I hate planeters.

How hard would it be to apply charon to pluto?

Not a planet.
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What's more important, getting reelected, or killing commies? emot-911.gif

 

Personally, I think anything the Soviets are going to use to kill Pluto is going to have to be nuclear tipped. Even assuming you can pick its radar/IR signature out of ground clutter, engagement windows are going to be ridiculously short (you're going to need a headon shot, since getting in a tail-chase with something going Mach 3 at low level is a monumental exercise in futility). An Atoll (R-13) probably has a max range of about 10km, and assuming a Mach 3.5 closing speed, Pluto's going to cross that range in just under 6 seconds.

 

 

 

Re: Planets, even if we add Charon's mass to Pluto, it still wouldn't be nearly enough to make it a planet (on account of their being too many other objects hanging around Pluto's orbit).

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Mach 3-4 at low level is a non-trivial exercise, especially that far back.  I agree with Unstart that you'd have to use nukes to even mission kill it, given the short engagement time and technology at the time.  I'd be worried about how accurate and reliable n proximity nukes of an acceptable yield would be given fire control and Russian engineering at the time.

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  • 2 years later...
On 3/15/2018 at 8:52 AM, Jamby said:

Well, I for one say that if Pluto feels it appropriate to be "shitting radiation" in our solar system, we should be prepared to defecate right back. How soon can we have rockets capable of almost-planet killing?

 

Pluto has roughly the same surface area as Russia. Assuming that the American Minuteman III arsenal would be enough to "kill" something the size of Russia (Pluto has much less defenses than Russia, and their targets are probably less hardened against military attack), then we need 450 W87 warheads, which weigh about 250 kg each (I don't know the exact number). In other words,  112500 kg of warheads.

 

The New Horizons probe weighed 478 kg and was launched on an Atlas V 551. 478 is pretty close to 250*2, so I'm going to say each Atlas V 551 can put two warheads on a Pluto intercept trajectory. This means we would need 225 Atlas Vs.

 

74 Atlas Vs have been launched since 2002, just over 4.5 per year. However, given sufficient incentives and/or money, I'm going to conservatively assume ULA could double the production rate, to 9 rockets a year. Therefore, using the Atlas V, there are 225/9 = 25 years until we have enough rockets to kill Pluto. Add in the 9.5 year transit time (from the New Horizons mission), and if we start today, we could cleanse Pluto of life by the year 2043.

 

With other rockets, like Falcon Heavy, SLS, or BFR, it's probable that we could throw more warheads per launch and reduce the number of rockets needed. However, the production rates of these launch vehicles, as well as their performance on a trans-Plutonian trajectory, is unknown. If we decide to go with something like an Orion drive that could get to Pluto quicker (and drop sufficient warheads in one go), we need to factor in research+development time, and I am not an expert at those sorts of things.

 

For a more extreme case, if we want to completely erase Pluto from existence, it will be harder. Pluto has a mass of 1.31*10^22 kg. To disperse this mass, I will assume we need to accelerate it to Pluto's escape velocity. From wiki, escape velocity is given by the following formula;

 

f74d7bf2a53c4a4d6960295523b030d6755cd11e

 

(side note, I'm going to say r is the radius where half the volume of Pluto is outside that radius. This is (1/2)^(1/3) times Pluto's radius, which is .7397*1188 km = 878.8 km = 8.788*10^5 m).

 

Solving for escape velocity, we find that the escape velocity is 1410 m/s. Therefore, the kinetic energy needed is .5 * 1.31*10^22 kg * (1410 m/s)^2 = 1.30*10^28 J. According to the Atomic Rockets page, the Sun puts out 3.9*10^26 J per second (watts). Therefore, we need to harness 33 seconds of the Sun's output and focus it simultaneously on Pluto. This is well beyond the technical capabilites of our civilization at the present time.

 

 

 

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On 3/17/2015 at 6:13 PM, Priory_of_Sion said:

When I first saw this thread I thought it was about making Pluto a dwarf planet forever. I get annoyed by people wanting to make it a planet. It never was a real planet. 

 

Yeah it basically became a planet through sheer media hype.

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My understanding is that ICBMs killed SLAM by being faster, equally hard to intercept and much, much less ridiculous.

 

In terms of actually targeting one: the calculations I've seen show that its producing measurable levels of ionizing radiation out to the horizon. So all you do is loft an array of balloons with directional radiation detection gear, triangulate the approach path and tell your AAA gunners to expect cancer in their futures.

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3 hours ago, Xlucine said:

I wonder how radiation-hardened a typical AA missile is? That could interfere with shooting it down, if the missile stops working as soon as it gets near the thing.

It was supposed to fly very low to the ground - well within gun range. So radar-guided flak is perfectly suited to the task and fits the time period.

 

It was also perfectly capable of providing a lethal dose just by flying over you, so you might want your gunners to write letters home before taking up positions.

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1 hour ago, Toxn said:

It was supposed to fly very low to the ground - well within gun range. So radar-guided flak is perfectly suited to the task and fits the time period.

 

It was also perfectly capable of providing a lethal dose just by flying over you, so you might want your gunners to write letters home before taking up positions.

 

Radar guided flak is period accurate, but low altitude effective radar guided flak isn't for about 10 years. The best you'd get is optically sighted autocannon, which would have little chance against something doing mach 3.

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12 hours ago, Xlucine said:

 

Radar guided flak is period accurate, but low altitude effective radar guided flak isn't for about 10 years. The best you'd get is optically sighted autocannon, which would have little chance against something doing mach 3.

Stories differ on how low altitude this thing was.

Atomic rockets has anything from 15m to 450m above ground as the cruising altitude. I'm... sceptical that the technology of the day was up to putting a cruise missile of any sort 15m off the deck, although wiki thinks that the upgraded Hound Dogs available around the same time could get down to 30m using a radar altimeter.

 

This thing would have been hard to deal with regardless - mach 3 means that readily available IR missiles (which would have no problem seeing this thing from any aspect) could only make a front aspect shot. Even a specially-designed IR missile (I don't know if you can go too fast with them due to the surface heating obscuring your seeker's view at some point) would only have a 10-second window where this thing is visible from the horizon. So you'd be reduced to shooting blind at the projected path (found using the radiation triangulation sensor grid I was talking about) and hoping that the thing is within your missile's seeker cone at some point.

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  • 1 year later...

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