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Is the US militarizing space?

Did you know the Soviet Salute space stations were actually designed and built as Amaz military stations, renamed after the cat was out of the bag? They were.

Did you know…..the Soviet Union fired a machine gun in space? Soviet engineers modified a machine gun (technically, a cannon) originally designed for its TU-22 bomber and installed it in its Almaz spy station. The Almaz was a reconnaissance station launched under the paper-thin guise of a peaceful space station project. (in fairness, the US Air Force also developed a spy station, but we made no secret of it). Although both countries were turning to unmanned spy satellites by this time, Almaz continued to fly throughout the Salyut era, and on Jan 24, 1974, the R-23M Kartech space gun was successfully test fired.

The gun was presumably intended for defense, though the 23mm cannon could have obliterated anything ever launched into space, (including the US and Soviet shuttles) with ease.

I say the test was successful. What I mean by this is, they didn’t kill themselves, breach the station, or cause it to unexpectedly deorbit. Firing 950 to several thousand 200-gram rounds per minute at 690 meters per second, this thing was, however briefly, the world’s only flown and fired space pulse-propulsion drive. They had to rotate the entire 20-ton station to take aim, and since objects in orbit always travel in ellipses, it’s not like they had a hope in hell of hitting anything at any range. Besides, if I want to take out a space station, I can just dump a box of marbles in an intersecting orbit, I don’t need to board them Buck Rodgers style.

The Soviets, though sometimes a bit brash in their efforts, deserve a great deal of admiration for their achievements in space, and they were sane enough to do this test by remote control after the crew returned home, but still…I honestly don’t know what they were thinking on this one.

 


  • Brian Trent is the award-winning author of the sci-fi thrillers Redspace Rising and Ten Thousand Thunders, and more than a hundred short stories in the world’s top fiction markets, including the New York Times’ bestselling Black Tide Rising series, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Nature, Daily Science Fiction, Escape Pod, Pseudopod, Galaxy’s Edge, and numerous year’s best anthologies. He lives in Connecticut. His website and blog are at www.briantrent.com.
  • Jody Lynn Nye is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fantasy and science fiction books and short stories, many of them with a humorous bent. She’s published more than 170 short stories and over 50 books, including her epic fantasy series, The Dreamland, contemporary humorous fantasies, medical science fiction novels, and more. Before breaking away from gainful employment to write full time, Jody worked as a file-clerk, photographer, accounting assistant and costume maker, and oh, as part of the engineering team that built a TV station, acted as Technical Director during live sports broadcasts, and worked to produce in-house spots and public service announcements. More at jodynye.com.
  • Henry Herz’s short stories include “Out, Damned Virus” (Daily Science Fiction), “Bar Mitzvah on Planet Latke” (Coming of Age, Albert Whitman & Co.), “The Magic Backpack” (Metastellar), “Unbreakable” (Musing of the Muses, Brigid’s Gate Press), “The Case of the Murderous Alien” (Spirit Machine, Air and Nothingness Press), “The Ghosts of Enerhodar” (Literally Dead, Alienhead Press), “Cheating Death” (The Hitherto Secret Experiments of Marie Curie, Blackstone Publishing), “Maria & Maslow” (Highlights for Children), and “A Proper Party” (Ladybug Magazine). He’s edited five anthologies and written twelve picture books, including the critically acclaimed I Am Smoke.
  • Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer with over four hundred stories published in fifteen countries and seven languages. He’s a member of Codex and an Active Member of SFWA. He has published six science fiction novels including one trilogy, four monster books, a dark military fantasy and a thriller. His short fiction is collected in Pale Reflection (2020), Off the Beaten Path (2019), Tenth Orbit and Other Faraway Places (2010) and Virtuoso and Other Stories (2011). In 2019, Gustavo was awarded second place in the Jim Baen Memorial Contest and in 2018 he received a Judges Commendation (and second place) in The James White Award. He was also a 2019 finalist in the Writers of the Future Contest. His website is at www.gustavobondoni.com.
  • Laura Montgomery is a practicing space lawyer who writes space opera and near-future, bourgeois, legal science fiction. Her latest book, His Terrible Stall, is the fifth in her Martha’s Sons series, which is set on the lost colony world of Now What We Were Looking For. Her most recent near-future novel is Mercenary Calling, and it follows one man’s efforts to save a starship captain from charges of mutiny. Her fiction website is at LauraMontgomery.com.
  • Martin L. Shoemaker is a programmer who writes on the side…or maybe the other way around. Martin published UML Applied: A .NET Perspective with Apress, but a second-place win in the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest earned him lunch with Buzz Aldrin! In addition to Writers of the Future vol 31, his work has appeared in Analog, Clarkesworld, Galaxy’s Edge, Digital Science Fiction, and Forever Magazine. His novella, “Murder on the Aldrin Express,” was reprinted in Year’s Best Science Fiction Thirty-First Annual Collection and in Year’s Top Short SF Novels 4. His short story “Today I Am Paul” was nominated for a Nebula and won the Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award before appearing in Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-third Annual Edition (edited by Gardner Dozois), The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume One (edited by Neil Clarke), The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy (edited by Rich Horton), Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction 8 (edited by Allen Kaster), and seven international editions (and counting). More at shoemaker.space.
  • 2023 Nebula Award Nominee Marie Vibbert has sold over 70 short stories to top magazines including Analog, F&SF, Nature, and Clarkesworld. Her debut novel, Galactic Hellcats, was long-listed for the British Science Fiction Award. By day she is a computer programmer in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Karl K. Gallagher is a systems engineer, doing data analysis for a major aerospace company. He writes both science fiction (the Torchship Trilogy) and fantasy (The Lost War). His novels have been finalists for the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian Science Fiction Novel of the Year four times. His most recent book is Swim Among the People, Book 5 in the Fall of the Censor space opera series. He publishes a free short story monthly on his Substack, gallagherstories.substack.com.
  • Matt Bille is a former Air Force ICBM officer and now a science writer, historian, and novelist living in Colorado Springs. He is the author of the NASA-sponsored history The First Space Race: Launching the World’s First Satellite (Texas A&M, 2004) and numerous papers and articles on space. He is also a defense and space consultant for the firm Booz Allen Hamilton and an early advocate of microsatellites and responsive launch. This story was written by the author in his personal capacity. Matt can be reached via his website www.mattbilleauthor.com.
  • Sylvie Althoff is a writer, editor, and elementary teacher. She has ghostwritten eight period romance novels and helped bring to life dozens of novels, short stories, memoirs, and children’s books. This is her first publication under her own name. She lives in Kansas with her wife, Jenn.
  • Harry Turtledove is a prolific writer of alternate history and science fiction, including The Man with the Iron Heart, The Guns of the South, and How Few Remain (Sidewise Award for Best Novel) and enough others to fill this page to combustion pressure. He was born in 1949 and raised in Los Angeles, which may explain why many of his stories involve the destruction of that city. His early interests included Byzantine history and dinosaurs, and he’s managed to work both into his writing, often at the same time. He gained widespread recognition in the 1990s with his “Worldwar” series, in which aliens invade Earth during World War II, throwing the conflict into chaos. Turtledove’s attention to historical detail and penchant for puns earned him a reputation as the “master of alternate history.”
  • David Brin is a scientist, speaker, technical consultant and world-known author. His novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages. His 1989 ecological thriller, Earth, foreshadowed global warming, cyberwarfare and near-future trends such as the World Wide Web. His 2012 novel Existence explorED bio-engineering, intelligence and open-creative civilization. www.davidbrin.com
  • M. T. Reiten served in the military, with deployments to Bosnia and Afghanistan, and worked as a scientist at a national lab (proving that there is such a thing as too much research for writing science fiction). A Writers of the Future and Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Contest winner, he has published stories in Analog and DreamForge and several anthologies to include S. M. Stirling’s The Change and, recently, “Higher Ground” in Robosoldiers: Thank You for Your Servos. He practices aikido, makes pizza, and now lives near Washington DC with his wonderful wife and daughter. www.mtreiten.com
  • Avery Parks is a science fiction writer with stories at Cossmass Infinities, MetaStellar Magazine, and Infinite Worlds, among others. She has also placed in multiple contests, most recently winning second place for the Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award. She lives in Texas with her family, a variety of pets, and (according to some) too many books. You can find her online at averyparkswrites.com.
  • Liam Hogan is an award-winning short story writer, with stories in Best of British Science Fiction and in Best of British Fantasy (NewCon Press). He’s been published by Analog, Daily Science Fiction, and Flame Tree Press, among others. He helps host Liars’ League London, volunteers at the creative writing charity Ministry of Stories, and lives and avoids work in London. More at happyendingnotguaranteed.blogspot.co.uk
  • Born on April 30, 1938, Larry Niven is a renowned American science fiction writer with a career spanning decades. Niven is widely acclaimed for his imaginative and thought-provoking works, characterized by their scientific rigor and inventive concepts. He is best known for his “Known Space” series, which introduced readers to the captivating Ringworld and explored complex themes such as interstellar travel, alien civilizations, and the implications of advanced technology. Niven’s storytelling prowess, attention to detail, and ability to blend hard science with compelling narratives have made him a beloved figure in the science fiction community. larryniven.net/
  • Gregory Benford is best-known for his Galactic Center Saga novels and in 2017, The Berlin Project. His work has earned him two Nebulas and the Campbell Award, along with 4 Hugo awards and 12 Nebula nominations. He was a scientific adviser for Star Trek: The Next Generation, and his contributions in astrophysics and plasma physics earned him the Lord Prize in 1995 and the Asimov Prize in 2008. He is a Professor Emeritus at UC, Irvine, and an ongoing advisor to NASA, DARPA, and the CIA. James Benford is a physicist, high-power microwave scientist, author and entrepreneur, perhaps best known for introducing novel technological concepts and conjectures related to the exploration of outer space, including laser-driven sailships, the possible use of co-orbital objects by alien probes to spy on earth, and technical and safety issues associated with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). www.gregorybenford.com
  • British science fiction author, Arthur C. Clarke, was a man ahead of his time – or at least the science of his time. He envisioned geostationary satellites long before they became a reality and wrote about virtual reality before the term even existed. With his sharp wit and playful imagination, Clarke was like a wizard of science fiction, conjuring up worlds and technologies that were both fantastical and prescient. His novel Childhood’s End is considered a classic in the genre, and his collaboration (with Stanley Kubrick) on 2001: A Space Odyssey is an iconic classic in the page and screen for its portrayal of space travel and technology. Clarke’s interest in science and technology was reflected in his work, and he was known for his accurate depictions of futuristic technologies and their impact on society. He also served in the Royal Air Force during World War II, which influenced his writing on military topics.
  • Analog Magazine regular C. Stuart Hardwick is notable for his L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future, Jim Baen Memorial award, and Analog Analab poll wins. An Air Force brat from South Dakota, he grew up on Black Hills treasure hunts and family stories like pages from a Steinbeck novel while making “radio shows” on an old tape recorder and animated shorts using Star Wars miniatures. He’s been translated into a dozen languages, published with Neil Gaiman, worked with the creators of the video game Doom, married an aquanaut, and has been known to wear a cape. For more and a free signed e-book sampler, visit www.cStuartHardwick.com.