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Nuclear warfare, or its threat, has been the defining aspect of international conflict for over one hundred years but it fails in the space age.

Atomic bombs have not become less powerful, far from it, but Mutually Assured Destruction hinged on two factors, the power of weapons and the ease of delivery, but the later of these that loses its sting in the modern age. Orbital command stations are ubiquitous, anti-satellite satellites more so, and the garrison fleets have more point defense than was conceivable thirty years ago and all this adds up to a very hostile welcome for any missiles traversing Earth orbit. With nuclear weapons banned by treaty in space, though some would argue this is rarely enforced, the threat of the ICBM is all but gone. They simply will not breach the atmosphere before being shot down and we can rest easy knowing our cities are safe from nuclear bombardment.

This changes the global power structure in a most disturbing way however, as it means destruction no longer has to be mutual. The military forces of all nations are now prioritizing space as their primary battle ground, and in space your assets are always exposed. No longer will there be retribution beyond the grave, as your launch ships will be the primary targets and easily identifiable. The tentative balance of power, which for so long has been weighted towards inaction has shifted again, towards the preemptive strike.

One must consider the kinetic bomb, a relatively new invention that threatens to replace the atomic in national warfare. Orbit based rail guns have been shown to produce kiloton yields in field tests, with no harmful radiation. These could be used as both a battle field weapon, deployed against military installations, defensive positions, or mobile devisions, or be used to destroy infrastructure to a high precision.Traveling a several kilometers per second these weapons are almost impossible to block and may replace the nuclear deterrent, though, being space based they suffer from the same issues as all orbital platforms outlined in chapter one.

Extracts from The Death of MAD – 2079

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