Unconventional Warfare/Weapons

A buddy of mine and I were talking the other day about the whole mess in the Middle East and my friend made the claim that every time the US is involved in a “dust up” somewhere that the Atlantis space shuttle would always be sent up on a mission. We got to talking about the fact the launch had been delayed because of weather and then a parts problem, when it hit me.

I hadn’t heard of any US military operations in Afghanistan being hampered by weather. Now this could just be because I missed the story, or the military kept quiet about the whole thing, or it could be something else. There was a company that made an announcement either last year or the year before that they’d come up with this powder, that when dumped into a cloud, absorbed the water droplets, and then fell to earth in a gel form that disovled. The company claimed that they were going to use it to try and disrupt hurricanes, but it seems to me that it would come in awfully handy in a military operation if the target area were obscured by clouds. Just send out a plane or two loaded with that stuff, have 'em dump it out over the target area, and “Boom!” no more clouds!

Anybody know of anything else like this? (I.E. Something that’s currently considered a peaceful technique, but could just possibly be used by the military during a war.)

The idea of the space shuttles being linked to secret government activity (aside from something prosaic as launching spy satelites) dates back at least as far as the Mel Gibson/Julia Roberts movie Conspiracy Theory and as such, should be viewed as firmly in the land of the tinfoil hat. Shuttles go up regularly and the U.S. gets into “dustups” regularly, so sure there’s a correlation. There’s also a correlation between American military actions and Star Trek conventions, and “I Love Lucy” marathons, and L.A. Dodgers victories, not to mention full moons that fall on Mondays.

In the age of radar, GPS and night vision goggles, I don’t think clouds are going to be a huge problem for the U.S. military. Certainly not enough to justify some nutty space-shuttle air-freshener approach.

All quotes from CNN.com:

“Bad weather, chiefly freezing rain, was hampering efforts to insert more U.S. Special Operations troops into Afghanistan, Stufflebeem said.” – November 3, 2001

“U.S. military officials said a Predator aircraft – an unarmed U.S. Air Force surveillance drone vehicle – was reported missing Friday while on a mission in Afghanistan. The officials blamed bad weather as the cause of its disappearance…Pentagon officials also said bad weather was the cause of a search-and-rescue helicopter’s crash in Afghanistan on Friday.” – November 3, 2001

“Despite terrible weather, U.S. airstrikes resumed about noon local time Tuesday (10:30 p.m. EST Monday) in the Konduz province. The weather conditions in the region were poor Tuesday, with heavy cloud cover and fog, cold temperatures and a fierce easterly wind that stirred up a large volume of dust.” – November 20, 2001

“The military wants to begin and finish the search quickly before the situation on the ground changes too much or there are complications caused by the winter weather, like a large snowfall.” – December 20, 2001

“Central Command said that bad weather is hampering efforts to send medical, airlift and earth-moving vehicles to the scene to evacuate the injured and clear the area.” – February 6, 2002

“U.S.-led forces were dealing with heavy fog and snowstorms in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, but coalition officials said they had planned for the wintry weather and that the operation was ‘right on plan.’” – March 8, 2002

“The airborne [division] actually began airlifting those troops out on Thursday but had to wait a couple of days because of bad weather to pick up the rest.” – April 7, 2002

USA Today

“Cloud seeding
Cloud seeding refers to using silver iodide or other materials to increase the amount of precipitation from clouds. It is the one technique of planned weather modification that has been shown to work, at least to some extent.”
Cloud seeding has been around since the 40’s. They used to use Sodium Nitrate (Table Salt) to cause the reactions, but newer methods are being developed. Essentially clouds are large pockets of condensation in the atmosphere. The idea is to increase the density of the moisture so that it converts from gas to liquid. The salt absorbs moisture and thus condenses the cloud.

At least thats the idea.

The Space Shuttle is used for secret military purposes. You occasionally here about it going up with a classified cargo. The launches are never secret (kinda hard to hide) but the cargo/mission certainly can be. Beyond that I don’t think the recent launch of the shuttle was anything military related. The reported cargo was a piece of the International Space Station and has been on the shuttle launch schedule for quite awhile.

Also, one of the biggest advantages that the US military has over other militaries is its all-weather, day or night fighting capability. As MEBuckner showed bad weather still hampers US operations but in general other militaries are even less able to cope with it thus allowing the US some chances for attack that an enemy might not be able to respond to as well as they otherwise might.

Keep in mind that Shuttle missions are planned years in advance, and the actual operation of assembling the launch system and then rolling it out to pad 39a takes days and sometimes weeks. NASA can’t afford to have a shuttle “at the ready;” their stepped up launch schedule more or less prevents such a practice anyway.

NASA has enacted some new security procedures lately. They appear to be designed solely to protect the astronauts and the launch vehicle.

Didnt the Navy have its own space shuttle for classified missions? I couldve sworn I read that somewhere. (No luck finding links though, so maybe it was just one of those consipiracy thingies). Anyone ever hear of such a thing?

Are you perhaps thinking of the X-20 Dyna-Soar? That was an Air Force project which never made it to production.

There are rumors of another craft, known as Aurora, but its existence has never been confirmed. The Air Force did rather cheerfully drop its fleet of SR-71s back in the late 1980s, though…

While “Aurora” may or may not exist, I’d be a little careful about repeating some of the claims from that page. It makes blunt assertions that the aircraft can become “optically invisible” by means of “intense magnetic fields” and other scientific or enginnering absurdities. Many of the ‘claims’ are only supportable by violations of basic principles, i.e.: Magic.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and that site is loaded with genaralities, speculation, and inuendo. “Aurora” may exist, but that site, while intriguing, hasn’t convinced me of anything.

I fully agree that whatever it is, we the public just can’t be certain.

This summary from that same site seems to have omitted the mind-control waves and rectal probes. Nevertheless, it is still just speculation.

What’s his point. The shuttle is way to high to do anything with the clouds. Also, it would be hard to drop stuff from the shuttle since everthing is weightless up there. Anything they dump stays with them.

You are better off flying planes above the clouds and dumping from them.

The only thing that could even begin to enact a “cameleon” effect on somthing would be a new technology called “photo voltaic” paint. By applying low voltage to a pigment they are able to change it to one of 16 colors currently. Kinda like a polymer LCD. It’s not very fast or very accurate yet, but it’s the closest thing we have. Magnets powerful enough to effect light waves would require a ** LARGE ** power plant.

I don’t doubt the Aurora’s existance for a minute. As Sofa King pointed out, they quickly got rid of the SR-71, still considered the pinacle of avionics engineering. In terms of speed that is.

I imagine the Auroa incoperates the newer “stealth” technologies as well as fully vectored thrust and ram-scoop technologies. But in order for the Aurora to make the manuvers it is claimed it can perform I doubt highly that it is a manned craft. It’s probably the next generation UAV (Unmanned Arial Vehicle). Given the recent success of the Predators and Cypher UAV’s this is not implausable.


Uhm. Nothing is weightless in space. Everything is in “free fall”. Just a physics nitpick. Oh, and I suggest you read Heinleins “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”. They can indeed do a great deal of damage from the shuttle, if it wern’t so expensive to lift heavy objects.

Whoops. Table salt is Sodium Cloride. I’m sure Sodium Nitrate has similar properties (particularly for cloud-seeding), but I just wanted to make sure no one starts sprinkling it on their eggs. Bet it wouldn’t taste as good.

Thanks for catching that Saltire. I’m an engineer not a chemist. But they do use Sodium Nitrate for cloud seeding. Although I imagine you could use any “salt” for the purpose including calcium chloride and Potasium Nitrate.

Skippman the cloud seeding that I was mentioning wasn’t sodium nitrate, it was a totally new chemical (at least in the realm of cloud seeding). Shortly after it was announced (they literally brought down an entire cloud with this stuff in just a short time), there was a thread about it here in GQ, but I don’t have time to search for it right now.

I also really wasn’t too interested in whether or not the Atlantis was up in orbit during every dust up. My main interest in starting this thread was to see if anyone knew of some fairly innocuous things that were recent inventions that just might have military applications.

Unless your magnets are so large that they become a black hole, they’re not going to help you become invisible. Magnetic fields only bend the paths of electrically charged particles. Photos are electrically neutral - magnetic fields won’t affect them at all.

Sorry, I just wandered in because I thought it was a thread about my farts.

Carry on.


A number of you have mentioned “Aurora”. This site from the FAS, concerning “Aurora” seems reputable.

The FAS site seldom disappoints for things military/scientific. You can spend hours there.

(aside) Sodium Nitrate is used in some TNT compositions as well as plastic explosives. When burned, it gives off a nice yellow light, which is used a lot in fireworks also. Sodium nitrate can also be used in a gunpowder mixture.

The Aurora exists! I have the scale plastic model of it. :wink: