Space Warfare · Solaris Wiki | World Anvil

Space Warfare

 
Welcome to Solaris, traveller! This is a slower-than-light science fantasy set in our own solar system.
About Solaris | Guide to Solaris | Prologue

Written by skairunner

Space warfare covers military operations conducted in or from space. It includes ship-to-ship combat, control of space, space-to-ground weaponry, and insertion from orbit to ground. Suborbital manuevers are considered by some to be space warfare, while others consider it an extension of planet-bound combat.

History

 
Space warfare in the 2201st century is in its infancy. Unlike planetary operations, there has never been a true peer conflict in space and most doctrines are unproven. Space is considered, for the most part, to be safe for civilian craft, and millions are in transit at a given time. Some piracy exists, but it primarily affects predictable, slow, and vulnerable long distance shipping and civilian shipping is generally unarmed.   The general consensus among military scholars is that a few different factors all contributed to a lack of historical space warfare:
 

1st.First, the cost of space warfare is very high. Due to orbital mechanics, combat in space requires a lot of technology and specialized ship designs to take full advantage of available equipment.   2nd. Second, defenders' advantage. The difficult part of conquering another planetoid is in the disembarkment from space to the ground. Entrenched defenses have been difficult to destroy from space, particularly evidenced in the Catamite Wars.   3rd. Third, lack of motive. Not only are many planet and planetoid environments hostile to humanoids from other planetoids, further investments need to be made to extract any resources and move them from ground to orbit and back home. It has proven to be far easier to simply pay the inhabitants of a planet and engage in commerce. The Imperial Period of Mercury is one of the first examples of this kind of commerce.
 
All these factors combined meant that few peer powers built and operated warships, meaning other peer powers are less incentivised to build their own, forming a feedback loop. The relatively recent century or two of militarization was triggered by conflicts over the Asteroid Belt and increased pirate activity; tensions between Mars, Jupiter and Saturn may further increase militarization, moving the balance of forces in the other direction and potentially ushering in a new era: the spaceborne arms race.  

Doctrines

The militarization of space in the Sol System has largely been a response to increased piracy targetting civilian shipping. The doctrines of the major space powers have thus been built around that goal, focusing on interception and soft targets. Strike craft such as the Cyklopes SSF-9 are light and fast enough to intercept pirates from a broad range of approaches and disable or destroy their poorly armed opponents at close range.   Some space forces such as Venus and Mars have non-carrier warships such as missile cruisers or minelayers, considered unproven doctrine. Long range engagements are unheard of, while the vastness of space seems it would make mines difficult to use effectively.  

The Future of War in Space

Predicting the future is not a simple task in any situation, and predicting the future of effective space doctrine is no easier. It is likely that the first space war will be fought primarily with a carrier-based doctrine, but if fighter-bourne weaponry turns out to be too weak to penetrate an armoured target, the Sol System may soon after see the first battleship-like military craft in space.
 

Space Forces

Icon depicting the planet Mercury

Mercury

Mercury was an early leader of system-wide trade, and did not have a standing fleet larger than a handful of fast cutters. What survives of its space force has been absorbed by Caduceus, while its massive merchant marine is scattered and is of little note in terms of military might.  
Drawn by Annie Stein in MS Paint

Venus

Venus has no moons, is far from the Sol System's belts, and has had cooperative relationships with its neighbors Mercury and Mars. Despite this fact, it has invested in a small and atypical space force of missile cruisers alongside the usual complement of patrol boats. Combined with her merchant marine, it is likely that Venus will be of help to Mars in the event of space conflict.  
Icon depicting the planet Mars

Mars

Mars has the second largest fleet in the Sol System and has quickly emerged as a rival space power to Jupiter. The Martian Homefleet is Mars's unified front, funded by all of Mars's nations and operating as a single fleet. It is composed of three carriers similar in capability to the Pater-class, along with a whole host of cruisers and tenders that could theoretically enable the Homefleet to operate far outside of friendly space. Mars also employs minelayers armed with stealth mines, defense platforms, and is rumored to even have full stealth warships.  

Asteroid Belt

The Belt consists of a series of settlements and outposts that claim sovereignty but are unrecognized by either Mars or Jupiter. After those two planets clashed over the control of the Belt, deploying military vessels and flying provocative patrols in the name of pirate-hunting, many Belter groups have joined together to organize their own defense force. Belter military ships are usually converted civilian vessels with makeshift weaponry, but its crew are highly motivated to defend their home.  
Icon depicting the planet Jupiter

Jupiter

Jupiter easily has the largest fleet in the Sol System, though it also has the busiest orbit as well. Its Orbital Guard has consistently operated at least twelve carriers, a host of space superiority craft, fast cutters, and more recently space surveillance craft. The Orbital Guard is constantly chasing pirates that the Jovians claim is Saturn-sponsored.   Separately from its established carrier fleet, there are allegations that Jupiter is attempting to build some kind of supercarrier in direct and flagrant contravention of the Alliance of Nations conventions of disarmament.  
Icon depicting the planet Saturn

Saturn

Although Saturn and her moons have enough collective economic power to field a space force to rival Mars or even Jupiter, it does not have the political unity to do so. Merchant Princes are loathe to cooperate with each other on matters of power-sharing, and the largest of the Princes have built up sizeable fleets of small military craft that are used to sabre rattle, though small engagements have been known to happen.   It is known that even smaller Princes own and operate defensive platforms, but it is nearly impossible for anyone to tally all such installations in the chaotic and unregulated orbit of Saturn.  
Icon depicting the planet Uranus

Uranus

Uranus is primarily composed of city-states and city-state alliances. Starwatch is its collective defense organization, but its main focus is on the Sentinel program and patrolling the skies of Uranus to deter atmospheric raiders.   This means that most of its military infrastructure is either pointed inwards, such as observation posts that attempt to peer through Uranus's cloud layers, or outwards towards the Kuiper belt, including long range sensors and telescopes. Little attention is paid to patrolling its orbit, with some fast cutters its only mobile space military presence.  
Icon depicting the planet Neptune

Neptune

Neptune has minimal orbital presence. Instead, the Neptunians turn their attention towards the threats from the Kuiper Belt and beyond with the Sentinel program.  

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Comments

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Dec 31, 2023 02:37 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

I really like that you went into detail about why space warfare hasn't been too common in the past, but also you managed to have quite the ominous tone about the future.   Fun overview of the planets and their fleets, too. Jupiter needs to calm down.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Dec 31, 2023 10:16

Jupiter has something to prove and a whole lot of money to throw at it...

Dec 31, 2023 07:48

I like the history, which reminds me a little of the arms race on Earth at the beginning of the 19th century, and I am very pleased that the Earth is not included in your very successful list of the individual planetary fleets.

Stay imaginative and discover Blue´s Worlds, Elaqitan and Naharin.
Dec 31, 2023 10:16

Earth, also known as Tellus in Solaris, is actually an uninhabited nature preserve. It has a fragile and beautiful ecosystem. The rest of the Sol System is made of sterner stuff.

Jan 3, 2024 18:11 by Gwynna Moore

Very informative. Detailed and humorous and enjoyable. I would prefer to stay on Earth, though.

Jan 3, 2024 21:15

Thank you! I'm not sure Earth would be the most pleasant, given that it has absolutely nothing except wilderness...

Jan 17, 2024 23:15 by LexiCon (WordiGirl)

Interesting article. Thanks for sharing and entering this into the Special Category. God bless and much success with your New Year's plans! <3

Jan 17, 2024 23:15 by LexiCon (WordiGirl)

btw I always enjoy your pretty art! <3

Jan 21, 2024 18:17

Thank you for reading the article! I do have to point out that Annie does the art :D

Jan 23, 2024 11:15 by LexiCon (WordiGirl)

ooo yes. sorry I didn't pay attention that the author was different here. great job on the writing!

Jan 24, 2024 22:55 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Super interesting overview! I love how you've presented this, and this really set the background for current days situation with what's going on with Penumbra and the rest of solaris! The little info about all planets really highlights the differences in their culture and their priorities and shows all the fun paths towards conflict that there are in Solaris.

Mar 9, 2024 20:14

Thank you! I had a lot of fun defining how each planet's situation is different to each other. And yes, thinking of potential future conflict >:)

Jan 25, 2024 21:22

The first thing I've gotta say is, my goodness, those images of planets are absolutely beautiful, great job as always! And the second, wonderful job on making each planet's military forces and their goals feel different and with it, their cultures also feel different from one another in their own unique way.

Mar 24, 2024 15:49 by Aster Blackwell

Each planet is so well characterized with its cultures and peoples that each of their stances on space warfare is hardly surprising! It's really impressive how all eight planets (as well as the Belt) are so easy to distinguish from one another. Solaris is truly a marvel.