Rods from God – Now That’s a Scary Weapon

I was reading through PopSci.com’s “The World’s Spookiest Weapons” earlier and, while all weapons were terrifying to say the least, one struck me as particulary spooky: The Rods from God. Like something from Star Wars, these tungsten rods are shot by a satellite which uses the Earth’s gravity to pull the rods at a whopping 36 000 feet per second (about 11 000 metres per second, or 40 000 kilometres per hour) towards some unfortunate target.

Rods from God

This one would be the hands down winner for spookiest name if the award weren’t just a consolation prize—the Rods from God will do just fine competing for the spookiest weapon, regardless of name, thank you very much. They are a kinetic energy device like the railgun, but instead of using electricity to achieve destructive velocities, they use gravity. The still-hypothetical system would be comprised of two satellites in orbit around the Earth. One would house the communications and targeting hardware, while the other would house the rods themselves, each up to a foot in diameter and twenty feet long. To fire, they would simply be released and allowed to fall back to Earth (with a bit of remote guidance). By the time they reached the surface, they’d be traveling at a speed of 36,000 feet per second and carry the destructive force of a nuclear warhead, only with none of the radioactive fallout.

Simply terrifying. Interested to learn more about these massive pins that were to be hurled from the stars, I consulted Wikipedia for more. However, in an unlikely situation, Wikipedia lacked masses of information on these death needles, as part of their aptly named “Kinetic Bombardment” page:

“Rods from God” is a space-based kinetic energy weapon that has been discussed since the early 1980s.

They would conceivably be particularly well adapted to penetrate hardened targets, such as underground nuclear facilities.

There are major difficulties involved. One of them is where to position the rods. They need to be high enough to deliver enough energy upon impact, but not so high that they vaporize in Earth’s atmosphere. The other difficulty is the number of satellites that would be required to cover a material portion of the Earth.

So there you go. Terrifying. Read more about Rods from God at PopSci.com.

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24 thoughts on “Rods from God – Now That’s a Scary Weapon

  1. DC Bateman says:

    nuke without the radiation. Cool.

  2. mke says:

    nukes against us [this is space access + math] = not so cool

    • USA says:

      Wipe the sand out of your pussy Mke you faggot. Stop sucking terrosist dick you piece of shit. The only people who would have to fear this thing are shithead cuntries who go looking for trouble

  3. Frank says:

    I’ll take 3 of them.

    One over Iran;

    The second over North Korea;

    The other over San Fransisco.

    That should handle the world’s top 3 enemies.

    If we got a fourth, I’d like it over Al Gore’s house.

  4. Mike says:

    “nuke without the radiation. Cool.” Cool? It is anything BUT cool. It’s freaking disgusting. No man should wield that kind of power.

    • USA says:

      Hey Mike, Eat a dick Faggot. USA could, and SHOULD made this thing to rape all the other shithead cuntries who opposed freedom and support terrorism.

      Don’t be jealous just because the USA is the greatest fucking country on the Planet.

    • USA says:

      Mike is just worried one of those Rods are going to miss his gaping asshole. Faggot.

  5. USA says:

    USA Baby. US FUCKIN A!

    Dont be hatin’ just because our country has the greatest fucking govt and military on the planet you jealous liberal faggots.

  6. Joe Cool says:

    The ultimate weapon (realistically possible) would be space based mass drivers – possibly Moon based – that would hurl asteroid or chunks of the moon onto the Earth. Planetary bombardment rules.

  7. dc bateman says:

    And you would prefer using a 100 megaton nuclear weapon as a deterrent? Oh yea. I forget. There are people who believe all God’s little chillins just want to live in peace , love and dope and we don’t need any bad old weapons of any kind. I’d rather be able to have the ability to neuter evil a-holes with a Rod from God than blow whole cities out of existance, killing people you really don’t want to kill , or deserve it.

  8. Alonso says:

    a weapon of mass destruction that is not so destructive. would give us flexibility for destroying threats. although, with high accuracy we are now achieving, this system may be limited to targets outside of drone, cruise missile range.

  9. Joujou says:

    You can’t release more energy than you spend for lifting. Stupid yankee POS.

  10. Mikhail says:

    It would only take nine weeks to deploy the fully developed system… scary.

  11. Skar says:

    You people are the reason this world sucks! especially usa, Your a dumbass.

  12. zhang says:

    Congratulations Oliver. You have brilliant readers.

  13. scary stuff when you know someone could set that thing off whenever they wanted

  14. David says:

    Someone enthusiastically just told me about them today (8-31-11).

    Unfortunately, the amount of energy expended to position the weapon in orbit is not worth the effort. What is missing in your discussion is the cost of the energy needed to lift the satellite and the rods into orbit in the first place, which is slightly more than the energy of impact when the rods hit the earth.

    Remember, the energy needed to raise the rods into orbit is equal to the energy expended on impact. There is no free lunch. Plus, the energy for the satellite platform is additional.

    A better weapon would be one that added energy into the system. That’s what a bomb is. A bomb on impact would not only have the potential energy stored from the raising of the bomb into orbit (expended as kinetic energy), but it would ADD energy in the form of the explosion of the internal charge of say TNT or nuclear material.

    Instead of expending all that energy for the rods, why not just develop a weapon on earth, that doesn’t need to be lifted into space (expending a lot of energy that could be used elsewhere in the system) and store the weapons here on Earth.

    This is one reason why “God Rods” don’t exist. There are no serious plans for them. They exist only in people’s imagination where reality can be put on hold.

    • Kenny says:

      they dont exist yet couse theres no need for them plus it takes more energy to make the satalite and send it into orbit then it expends in the first place, yes that is true but thats the same with bombs it takes more energy to make the bomb in the first place than it realeases when it explodes its just energy changing form the same aplies here you use rockets to luanch it into space then you realease it and send it on its way to its target were it uses gravity to give it kenetic energy which in turn turns it into a nuke without radiation for all intensive porpuses i would much prefer this to a nuke.
      P.S.i know my spelling is terible but dont let that distract you from the point

    • Tim says:

      Actually, the rods from god concept is quite feasible. The energy issue you speak of neglects the RATE of energy release, which is quite different from total energy cost. For example, you can use gasoline to make a fuel air explosive, or use it to power your car. Powering your car uses the same amount of energy, spaced out over thousands of tiny combustions as a fuel air explosive, whcih does it at once. same goes the kinetic energy weapons. It would take a few hours/days to reach orbit, but it would descend and hit its target within minutes. That delta is what makes the difference.

    • Tim says:

      Maybe for a better comparison, consider ancient siege weapons before explosives. A ballistia exists in a closed energy system. It takes several minutes to winch the bolt into place. But the release and subsequent impact into your castle walls takes a few seconds. Usually, we are limited in our ability to accelerate something, even if we don’t mind expending the energy to grant the object PE. But in this case, we can turn days of PE work into seconds/minutes of PE work, giving us a delta that is very favorable for a weapon. Plus there are force multipliers such as just as how terrifying such a weapon would be.

  15. SaL says:

    HAVE ORBITING SQUADRONS OF X35B CIRCLING THE PLANET LIKETHE OLD B52s USED TO.

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