The author Dale Brown started off promisingly. But he hit the problem that a a few techno-thriller types hit: he wrote himself into a corner. The technology became too good, and the battles became too big. You can get away with one plane beating an entire air force once, twice tops, but you can’t keep doing it. And a full fledged nuclear war cannot happen in ever novel, not if you’re trying to keep a single universe working. Everyone involved would be glowing green, for a start.
That said, most of his books were entertaining. And some of the earlier technology (before the reactive personal armour and killer lasers) was pretty cool. Some of them were news to me, although they’d probably been mentioned somewhere else and I hadn’t noticed. One of the cooler of these things was the ‘Gods Eye View': a real time image of the battlefield, using radar, visual and passive EM sensors based in a constellation of near earth orbit satellites. Very cool stuff.
And these satellites (called NIRTS for Need It Right This Second) were cheap and plentyful. Why? Because the launching mechanism was cheaper and more versatile than any other. It used rockets dropped from a high flying aircraft. Meaning that a) the rocket needed less fuel, b) the rocket avoided the initial take off stresses, c) the rocket experienced less change in air pressure and d) the rocket encoutered less air resistance. Oh, and it could be used independent of weather and things like that.
A brilliant idea, yes? So why the smeg is the US Air Force only getting round to playing with the concept now?
The rear of the aircraft yawned open, and at the prompt of “five, four, three, two, one, green light,” the loadmasters released the restraints and a 65-foot rocket slid out the back of the aircraft beginning its descent to the desert floor.
The rocket drop was a test mission — the first of a series dubbed the Falcon Small Launch Vehicle program. The program is a joint venture between the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force. It is designed to develop a new method of putting a 1,000-pound payload into low-Earth orbit.
Why haven’t they been looking at this before? I mean, it’s not rocket science, is it?
Must admit, I read that as “Dan Brown” first, which put me right off. Still, reading on, I agree – it’s not rocket science.
It’s launch theory, instead…
I’ll confess to not having read anything of Dan Browns. And not being particularly keen on reading anything by him either.
Oh, and I’d like to see technology like this get beyond the theory stage.