Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The original Project Orion

Project Orion was the most audacious spaceship plan ever conceived. It was to be a nuclear-pulse powered rocket able to cruise through the Solar System at sub-lightb speeds; a flying, self-sufficient city-ship.

Nuclear-pulse (External Pulsed Plasma Propulsion) was exactly as it sounds: propulsion achieved through controlled nuclear detonation.

The Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 pretty much spelled the end of Project Orion, although the amount of radiation released by its launch would have equated to less than 1 percent of the radiation released through conventional above ground atomic testing.

Not that any radiation released in Earth's atmosphere is a good thing. But it seems to us, Project Orion would provide the perfect propulsion for interplanetary travel, at least within our Solar System. And give we now have a floating laboratory and construction platform in the form of the International Space Station, perhaps it is time to revisit the greatest spaceship we never built...

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