Thrust Into Space
Date: 16 Dec 1981 21:50:29-PST
From: decvax!utzoo!henry at Berkeley
Subject: Project Orion and relatives
If anyone is interested in the details of nuclear pulse propulsion,
possibly the best place to start is the lead paper in the August 1979 issue
of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society: "Nuclear Pulse
Propulsion: A historical review of an advanced propulsion concept". It
discusses everything from the original concepts to the recent schemes
based on beam-ignited microexplosions. About 1/3 of the 25-page paper
is the best technical (as opposed to project-history) discussion of Orion
I have seen, including an attempt at an analysis of the rather vague vehicle
descriptions in "The Curve of Binding Energy". The 97-item bibliography
might also be of interest.
Subject: Re: Reactors banned in NEO?
Date: Tue, 17 Nov 92 14:50:55 -0800
Nuclear bombs are banned, in any form, in space.
The test ban treaty saw to that. Which theoretically
nails down any "Orion" vehicles... 8-) As if anyone
would build one unless they were desperate enough to
violate a treaty anyway. Which is likely scienci fiction
not space-tech 8-)
Date: 05 Dec 1981 2140-PST
From: Ted Anderson
Subject: Request for references on Project Orion
To: space at MIT-MC
MSG: ORION1 1
LEVIN@MIT-MC 12/05/81 16:25:45 Re: Project Orion
A recent rerun of Cosmos extolled the virtues of Project Orion.
I am interested in finding more information about its performance, design
and failings. I would appreciate any pointers to review articles or government
reports. Replies to Levin@MC
Date: Sun, 1 Mar 92 18:34:44 EST
To: UC369801@UMCVMB.missouri.edu, jfc@ATHENA.MIT.EDU
Subject: Re: dumb really dumb big booster idea
Propellant costs are low, but there are structure costs proportional
to propellant mass and volume and structure is not cheap. However,
fuel tanks cost less than engines and it takes probably takes less
tank mass to support explosives than liquid fuel.
I think chemical explosives have less energy than H+O.
TNT is about 4.2 MJ/kg. H2 + O2 (stoichiometric) is 13.4 MJ/kg.
Even LOX + hydrocarbon is much better than high explosives.
An Orion-style rocket with chemical explosives sounds quite
impractical. The mass overhead for the shock absorbers would be
large, and the launcher for the explosive packages would have to be
much larger than for the nuclear version.
Date: Sat, 9 Jul 88 12:55:47 PDT
From: mordor!rutgers!pnet01.cts.com!jim (Jim Bowery)
Subject: Ron Paul's Libertarian Party Space Policy
Dale Amon presented me with a copy of Ron Paul's space policy and I felt
it appropriate to post on the net, especially since Dale claims to have
contributed to this policy and is available for discussion of it on
the network. Here it is:
Ron Paul's Space Policy
Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate
Time after time NASA has developed capabilities at great expense then
discarded them: a space station larger than the Soviet MIR, a heavy
lift vehicle competitive with the new Soviet Energia, a nuclear engine
twice as efficient as the space shuttle main engine, and a well-tested
Earth-Moon transport system.
We must also demand a revision or understanding to the 1967 Outer
Space Treaty so individual property rights are recognized. If
there are no implementing protocols for property rights within a
specified time limit we should withdraw from the treaty entirely.
In any case, we should immediately open a land office and accept
claims of Americans to specific pieces of land, subject to occupancy
within fifteen years.
Back in the late 1950's a project called Orion seriously considered using
small nuclear explosions to power a spacecraft. The lifting capacity
would have been vast, measured in thousands of tons instead of
the miniscule abilities of today's mightiest rockets. This brute-
force approach was simple enough to be considered feasible 30 years ago.
Unfortunately, the idea was shelved by the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
No, Orion was not "available" in 1951. In his book *Adventures of a
Mathematician* Stanislaw Ulam says he and C. Everett cooked up the
idea around 1955.
2. Henry Spencer Jun 8 1994
Herbert F. York's "Building
Weapons, Talking Peace" (I think that's the title). He was the unnamed
man mentioned in Dyson's account, the one making the funding decisions.
He basically thought Orion was a *very* long shot, with a lot of major