2199 Terror at the Dubai Cosmodrome

Terrorists blow up the 32 kilometers tall acceleration tower of the Dubai Cosmodrome, the Dubai Fountain. Debris falls onto the surrounding spaceport, on nearby business districts and shopping malls. 43,000 people die in the attack.

Dubai is one of the four primary mass launch sites on earth. Every year, Dubai sends thousands of people and millions of tons of material into orbit.

At the heart of the Dubai Cosmodrome there is the acceleration tower containing an electromagnetic catapult and a ring of high-power lasers at the top, the laser launcher. The electromagnetic accelerator is basically an upright railgun. It accelerates launch pods with their payloads to a velocity of five kilometers per second for cargo and 1.2 km/s for humans.

The inside of the tower is almost airless. In addition, each starting pod is preceded by a wave of electrical discharge pushing aside the remaining air. Cargo pods reach the top of the launch tower after only 13 seconds (people: 50 seconds). There lasers take over the. Large laser emitters form a ring around the top of the tower. They are located above 99% of the atmosphere. At this altitude, the power of the lasers is neither reduced by the atmosphere, nor distorted by fluctuations in air pressure nor hindered by clouds. The lasers accelerate the payload to orbital speed.

The vertical structure consists of a nitrocrystalline nanocomposite with ten times the strength of carbon nanotubes. The tower is stabilized by magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters along the entire length of its structure.

The launch pods return to the Cosmodrome autonomously. They land vertically on a smaller version of the laser launcher, called the laser descender. They are checked, filled with reaction mass, and then reused. The whole system is driven by large power plants and capacitors on the ground.

The terrorist attack destroys a segment of the tower at a height of four kilometers just above the base. The explosion severs the nanocomposite walls, the linear accelerator, and all supply lines. Debris rains down onto the base. The entire tower above the fracture starts to fall. The plasma thrusters are automatically powered up to stabilize the fall. The crash can no longer be stopped, but the thrusters can determine the direction. They slow down the falling column and steer it into a designated path. Without any connection to the surface the power supply of the plasma engines is only good for a few seconds. But this is enough to give thrust for a controlled fall. The tower is broken up into 100-meter segments, weighing 20,000 tons each. All segments have their own parachutes, which are supposed to slow down the fall and steer them into an emergency landing zone. This works perfectly for 95% of the segments.

Unfortunately, the parachutes of 13 segments do not open. These segments crash down uncontrolled. The initial thrust of the plasma engines has catapulted the main mass beyond the base towards the emergency landing zone. Therefore, most of the segments do not fall directly onto the sloped base of the tower, but in a steep parabola onto the surrounding ground infrastructure.

The two lowest of the 13 rudderless segments are still above the base and there they descend. Six segments hit open spaces on the ground or parking areas. Two more segments hit the cargo depot, which is largely automated. There are no casualties.

That leaves three uncontrolled crashes. Two of them fall onto buildings in the business district. It is rush hour. Most offices are busy, and the shopping malls are teeming with visitors. A 120-story office tower is hit centrally from above by one segment and gives way. The other segment comes down horizontally like a huge falling barrel sliding off a building and then rolling over a busy shopping center. As in many other shopping centers around the world, a major event is taking place to launch a new beverage brand.

There is a total of 43,171 victims.

A third uncontrolled segment strikes right in front of the Cosmodrome's passenger check-in area without doing much further damage.

The attack is the work of an anti-expansionist faction of radical conservationists.

It was well known that the acceleration tower would be dangerous for surrounding areas in the event of a structural failure. Therefore, it had a multi-staged safety plan using emergency thrusters and parachutes to guide the falling segments. An later investigation discovers maintenance deficiencies in the emergency equipment and problems in the control software, that had never been tested.