Project Orion

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AKA the worst rocket idea EVAR.

Project Orion was a NASA “Nucular” rocket propulsion system from the 1950s. Except that nuclear powered, in this instance means nuclear BOMB powered.

The Orion rocket was essentially a nuclear pulse rocket designed to use a series of controlled/directed nuclear detonations for propulsion.

Nuclear reactions are some of the most energetic for any given mass of fuel, and could technically be an ideal energy source for high endurance, long range, space flight applications.

However, used in this fashion, it comes at the cost of some rather horrific radiation related side effects. The movie on the sauce page, give a little humorous insight about the problems, crew member radiation levels, eyeburn etc…

And that doesn’t even cover the environmental effects that a number of sequential, high yield nuclear explosions might occur at ground level after the fact… *shiver* But I suppose it would be better than the entire planet getting destroyed…

Sauce: DRB


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    wartoaster

    Getting to the moon cheaply: all it takes is 10,000 nuclear bombs under your ass.

    bfd

    “environmental effects that a number of sequential, high yield nuclear explosions might occur at ground level after the fact…” Or you could build in orbit, use chemical rockets to get to a higher orbit, and then light off the pulse drive. Orion would be a great way to mine the asteroid belt, and get rid of those newkluler bombs so many are so very afraid of. “Sauce” contains an epic fail as well, equating the nuclear pulse drive with a nuclear powered ramjet. Entirely different concepts, sharing only the scary word “nuclear”. Well, that and “propulsion”, I suppose. Imagine an… Read more »

    AgZed

    Worst idea evar? More like BEST idea evar! Possibly not the best idea for near-Earth travel, but space is big. Really, really, really big. You set off a nuclear bomb in the depths of space, all those lil radioactive particles go flying off at ridiculous speeds, and with nothing to “stick” to, and no gravity well keeping ’em down, it wouldn’t take very long for the radiation from the bomb to have dispersed to a level that it would be indistinguishable from background radiation.

    The Matrix: Rebooted

    The “horrific environmental effects” are highly overrated. Ted Taylor and Freeman Dyson calculated the that the world-wide cancer rate would go up by one for every launch of an Orion craft.
    The proposed Orion craft was HUGE. Approximately the size of aircraft carrier. It would have been capable of reaching any planet in the Solar system within a few months, as opposed to chemical rockets that take 18 months just to get to Mars.
    Everyone should read The Orion Project by George Dyson and quit pissing their pants every time they hear the word “radiation”.

    Moe

    AgZed: True that. “BAD” words are what hold science back. “IF” this was build in space it could use solorwind to get far enough from our system to light them off BUT people don’t realize that “Empty space” is FULL of BAD radiation. Spliting an atom for energy is what the stars do. hello? did i lose anyone- the sun is NUCLEAR. The sun emits TONS of radiation every second.. what is a tiny blast in nowhere going to do?

    gor

    The line drawing was from a sci-fi book written in the 80s called “Footfall”. Basically, the earth is being attacked by genetically engineered elephants that aliens took from earth thousand of years before (they “elephants” were intelligent but without creativity). Orion is the story was humanities only great attempt to fight bon ack at their giant orbiting ship, but had to built and launched from the ground under cover to keep from being attacked. Better good science was written into the story, not a bad book at all.

    pi_neutrino

    I want one.

    WistfulD

    First and foremost, this was not really a specific “project” so much as a number of related plans, ideas, half-baked schemes, and partially worked out ideas all based around the idea of using nuclear detonation based thrust (a useful distinction, since nuclear rockets using fusion or fission as a energy/heat source also exist, and in the case of nuclear battery powered un-manned craft, have already been launched). Some of them are far more preposterous than others. Let’s remember that during that time, some really zany ideas made it onto discussion tables within the U.S. government. I remember hearing about people… Read more »

    steve-o

    Where on earth did you get the crap about genetically engineered elephants? The Fithp in Footfall are common-or-garden aliens; there is a plot-engine that comes from the fact that they are herd animals; they look similar to elephants but with multiply-branching trunks which they use like a pair of hands; but they do not have a Terran origin.

    montra--trimek--pig--thailand

    i–st–orion–nasa

    montra--trimek--pig--thailand

    i–support–nasa

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