From an article posted on the Neptune net circa Year 199, circulated throughout the System:
“Combat in space is conducted the way it is for a reason. If you grew up doing a job that had nothing to do with ships or weapons, I suppose I could forgive you for not understanding this: space is a vacuum. It may be cold in temperature, mostly, but if there is nothing around a ship to absorb heat, where is a vessel supposed to put it all? The principles of thermodynamics limit how much heat can be vented in a given time. Let me tell you something about combat: it generates a lot of heat. Vessels on combat maneuvers have to burn harder and longer than when merely cruising. Weapons also build up heat, often to absurd levels. There are systems in place, some based on water, others liquid nitrogen, that can mitigate the worst of it, but suffice to say a ship that stays in combat will eventually cook its crew alive.
Aside from the obvious problem, heat, why have battles in space always been such short, precise affairs? The answer is easy: we only have so many good ships. Even the crazies, usually, won’t blow up a ship if they don’t have to. What’s more, taking shots at the solar panels is considered a dick move, if I may borrow the parlance. The weapons we have on most ships are meant to be used at close range, for disabling the weapons of other vessels, or to deter fighters, shuttles, boarders, grapplers, and any other nasty.
There are also a series of good reasons why most weapon systems are limited in range. For one thing, we don’t need any random cobber being able to fire a round that will hit someone in the neighboring star system in a thousand years or so. Or some bystander working out on the fringe of our system, for that matter. Plus, as it turns out, one of the cruxes of our modern civilization is the space station, and by extension, the Crops. It’s never been considered a good practice to put weapons on ships that were able to destroy a station. Sure, I suppose one really could try, but you’d either melt in the process or have the whole territory after you.
Ion weapons are the most peculiar bit of the whole lot. They rely on exciting ambient particles, forcing a high distribution of electrons when the ionic blast strikes its target. In vacuum, they are limited in range and effectiveness because they are ionizing particles stored in molecular batteries. There is nothing in space to ionize, so the blast dissipates quickly. In atmo, that’s another story, but no one seems to be able to get ion weapons to work right in air.”
Written by an author identified only as T.T. Original post originated in the Gravin Enterprises territory around Neptune.