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Project Orion, farming the solar system... and asteroid cities?

12 Mar 2016, 10:34 UTC
Project Orion, farming the solar system... and asteroid cities?
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Imagine that you're an engineer who worked on America's nuclear weapons program. You'd like to look for a more constructive use for you work.Why not turn the mind breaking energy of nuclear bombs to  making the kind of absurdly huge spaceships Galactic Empires favour a reality?This kind of size. Although less pointy. Image courtesy of ComicVineIn the 1950's a bunch of the engineers, who worked on American nukes, developed project Orion. Orion was a plan for .... frankly, quite insanely huge.... spaceships. Spaceships propelled by, essentially, throwing nukes out the back one at a time and setting them off."Satellite"Orion"Midrange"Orion"Super"OrionShip diameter17–20 m40 m400 mShip mass300 t1000–2000 t8,000,000 tNumber of bombs54010801080Individual bomb mass0.22 t0.37–0.75 t3000 tAbove: A table I've shamelessly cribbed from wikipedia, showing the sizes of three different classes of Orion space ship. Note the number of zeros - that's not a typo. You could carry a small town into space with one of these things.And, as far as we can tell, it probably would have worked. Two things closed the project down: The nuclear test ban treaty, and one important piece of technology never happening - a fallout free nuke. Without that even starting these bad boys up in orbit would have increased cancers worldwide. There're still people ...

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