Ron's Reviews > Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship

Project Orion by George Dyson
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's review
Mar 30, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: space, history

What would you say to the idea of a spacecraft pushed along by bombs exploding behind it? What if you were told that with atomic bombs the spacecraft could be the size and weight of an oceangoing battleship?

Project Orion is a history written by the son of noted Physicist Freeman Dyson. His father was on the research team at General Atomics in the early 1960s that showed such a spacecraft could very likely be built. A filmed test with conventional explosives showed a model vehicle popping upwards. They even held talks with the Coca Cola company to see if very reliable soda can dispenser mechanisms could be adapted to eject microbombs. In the end, the problems of fallout, nuclear proliferation due to the manufacture of thousands of tiny atomic bomblets and the signing of the atmospheric test ban treaty killed the full scale concept.

In recent years the idea has occasionally been revived for a mission to Mars, where the nuclear pusher engine would only be used outside of earth's atmosphere.

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