#AtoZChallenge – Kinetic Bombardment, death from above

Time for K in my Sci-Fi themed A-to-Z Challenge!

Kinetic bombardment is used in science-fiction as an extremely destructive form of warfare. The idea is that instead of firing explosives at your enemy, you could simply drop dense matter on them from orbit. There are many variations on the idea, but one of my favorite books to feature it is The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein. In this story, citizens of Luna use a giant railgun to fire projectiles at targets on Earth.


The idea of kinetic bombardment has more recently popped up in games and movies as “Rods from God”. A satellite is loaded with inert rods of tungsten, which are then launched from orbit and cause widespread destruction on Earth. While it’s true that such rods would hit with a lot of kinetic energy, sci-fi stories tend to grossly exaggerate the amount of destruction they would cause. The main advantage would be that the target would have almost no warning and no time to prepare, but the actual damage caused probably wouldn’t be worth the extreme cost of putting the satellite into orbit in the first place.


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