Space Mines
Like their seagoing counterparts, but IN SPAAAAACE!!!


(permanent link) added: 2011-06-25 10:49:15 sponsor: JonnyB (last reply: 2011-06-28 04:26:29)

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Space is, of course, an ocean. And sometimes your Space Navy needs to block access to a port, a space lane, or even an entire planet. How to do this? Why, Space Mines, of course. These are like their seagoing counterparts, but IN SPAAAAACE!!!

Just like there are several types of Sea Mines, so there are also many types of Space Mines. Most common are proximity mines, that go off when a ship gets too near, and contact mines that go off when they hit a ship's hull. Magnetic mines are attracted to metal hulls. Homing mines will home in on a ship's engine or weapon energy signature. Some mines are miniature weapons platforms that open fire when ships get too close. Remote-detonated mines can be set off by a waiting vessel when a target ship gets in range. Nuclear mines have nuclear warheads in them. Then there are mines that rob ships of power (dampening fields) instead of just exploding. There are many other variations and combinations.

Not to be confused with Space Mining operations, mining valuable materials from asteroids or other planets IN SPACE!.


Examples :

Anime and Manga
  • There are massive space minefields around the Men's Planet (Tarak) that is visited towards the end of Vandread (second season). They are used to reveal First Mate BC as The Mole, since s/he knows the friend-foe codes of the mines that allow Nirvana to pass them.
  • Mines are used in multiple battles in Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

Film
  • Galaxy Quest, the Tothian mine field.
    Cmdr Taggart: And what you fail to realize is my ship is dragging mines!

Literature
  • Stewart Cowley's Spacecraft: 2000 to 2100 A.D.. During the war with Proxima Centauri, the perimeter of Earth's solar system was seeded with nuclear mines. They would home in on the warp generators of arriving enemy ships and destroy them while they were recharging their power banks after the warp jump.
  • Honorverse has this; it gets around SpaceIsBig by having the mines basically be the same 10,000-kilometer-range laser warheads found on their missiles.

Live-Action TV
  • In the pilot of the original Battlestar Galactica, the Galactica must pass through a narrow region of space in a dense nebula that has been mined by the Cylons.
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "Matters of Honor", we see a Centauri minefield deployed to interdict access to a planet. This minefield actually consists of orbiting weapon platforms that fire on intruding starships instead of merely exploding when they get within range.
    • Captain Sheridan also used nuclear warheads as mines on at least two occasions, but these were remotely detonated from a starship when enemy vessels were deemed close enough.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Balance of Terror". The Romulan ship uses one of its self destruct devices as an impromptu mine in an attempt to destroy the Enterprise.
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In The Kobayashi Maru scenario that starts off the movie, the ship the Enterprise needs to rescue was disabled by a gravitic mine.
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, during the Dominion Wars the Defiant mined the entrance to the Bajoran wormhole.
    • In Star Trek: Enterprise, the Enterprise runs into a cloaked field of Romulan mines.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine also has the Klingons establishing an illegal cloaked minefield in "Sons of Mogh." The mines are dormant and have to be remotely activated in event of war-- and would effectively cut DS9 and Bajor off from support from elsewhere in the Alpha Quadrant. More on Star Trek mines here.
      • Fridge Logic: FWIW the Klingon mines make no sense, since they'd have to mine space three-dimensionally - which they don't - in order to be effective, which would literally take hundreds of years to do even at like 15 seconds a mine. (They don't just mine around Bajor, they mine around the entire Bajoran system.)
      • This is true of most examples of this. The other DS9 example is actually pretty rare in its making-sense-ness.
      • Perhaps what they call "mines" are really dormant warp-capable drones which are activated by anything in their sensor range, which could be a significant fraction of a lightyear, which would allow only a few of them to cover a three-dimensional hollow sheathe around the Bajoran system.
  • The Stargate SG-1 episode "The Serpent's Venom" takes place in a space minefield where the mines all lock onto any sign of weapons, which is used by the Go'a'uld as a neutral meeting place. SG-1 has to reprogram a mine to attack one of the Go'a'uld ships at the meeting, in order to instigate a conflict.

Tabletop Games
  • Star Fleet Battles. Ships can "roll a mine out a hatch" and leave it to blow up a ship pursuing them. Mines can be set to accept only certain sizes of ships as targets. Major space installations often had minefield belts protecting them. Some of the mine types available:
    • The Romulans have a Nuclear Space Mine based on the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Balance of Terror".
    • Command mines can be ordered to detonate or to activate/deactivate themselves.
    • Chained mines detonate when other mines explode.
    • Transporter bombs can be beamed into position.
    • Captor mines can fire weapons at targets.

Video Games
  • Halo: First Strike has Moray Space Mines.
  • Wing Commander has Porcupine Space Mines.
  • The Babylon Project: In three levels of the Earth-Brakiri War, you have to navigate through a Centauri minefield. Unlike traditional contact or proximity mines, these mines shoot at you (see the Babylon 5 example above).
  • There's an online Flash game called Space Minefield.
    • Also one called Space Mines.
    • And a company called Cogmed created a flash game called Space Mine Patrol to demonstrate working memory.
  • Space mines appear often in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, both in novels and in the games. http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Space_mine
    • Both the X-Wing and TIE Fighter games feature mines that shoot at you, rather than exploding. Most of the missions that feature these tend to be quite difficult.
  • Star Fox 64: The first few seconds of Sector X has a cloud of mines you have to go through.
  • Homeworld has Minelaying Corvettes. The mines themselves are proximity-triggered homing mines, solving the problem of mining in 3D space.
  • Elite 2: Frontier and Elite 3: Frontier First Encounters space-sim video games let you deploy these mines... or be blown to bits with them. Honestly, these mines are uneffective.

Real Life

While most science fiction applications of Space Mines are ridiculous in practical application (see the fridge logic page), it might be feasible to set up Space Mines in certain high-traffic orbitals, e.g. geosynchronous orbit. Other targets would be those used in an orbital insertion after launch from a major ground-based spaceport. You could also position them at Lagrange points due to their use in the Interplanetary Transport Network.

Space mines have actually been considered in real life studies as possible space weapons utilizing current tech. Examples:

So yeah, some degree of Truth in Television.

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