September 13, 2002
Nuclear powered spaceships

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit has written an article about nuclear powered spaceships and the history of the Orion project to design one. The amazing thing about it is that it is possible to prevent the pusher plate (and therefore the spaceship) from being vaporized by the atomic blasts:

But experiments demonstrated that properly treated substances could survive intact within a few meters of an atomic explosion, protected from vaporization by a thin layer of stagnating plasma.

Such a spaceship could be built today. Go read his essay if you are interested. Science fiction buffs may recall that Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle used such a nuclear pulse engine in their 1985 novel Footfall (graphic depiction of the Footfall spaceship available here) where some humans built one to defeat alien invaders. Here's an earlier article about the concept from the space.com site.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2002 September 13 08:37 PM  Airplanes and Spacecraft


Comments
Wayne Smith said at February 10, 2003 3:09 AM:

A useful site for everything related to nuclear power and space travel is http://www.nuclearspace.com
Home of the Pro-Nuclear Space Society. A grass roots movement for supporters of serious space travel. Visitors have included such personages as Jerry Pournelle and Robert Zubrin. All are welcome and membership is free. Up to the minute news on nuclear and space issues. Articles. Gallery. Links to related sites. Messageboard for meeting other nuclear space enthusiasts. A place to gain inspiration for writing and get away from the luddites haunting other interactive space websites.

Wayne Smith
Founder of NS

paul carlozzi said at June 3, 2003 7:50 PM:

As a 20+ year veteran of the aerospace machining
industry ,and having in addition to machinist experience, hazardous matl handling exp. and a commercial drivers lic w/t the x or endorsement
to carry and legally transport nuclear and any
other class of hazardous matl. I was wondering
if any active work in this arena of expetise
exists at this time as space exploatin and research
was always an interest of mine an i did work on the chemical processing of an experimental fuel pump for nasa once.

charlie said at September 25, 2003 2:26 PM:

perhaps you can test a concept ship, like star trek, instead of using gas, plasma, or nuclear, to get around, use hurricane simulator fans, test it and see how fast nasa gets around the earth first, I got the idea from tv, I saw divers use a divice to pull them around under water, and they went pretty fast, being under water is similar to the force of space, well gather up top teams and try it, it can save alot of time, money, and gas, perhaps you can use gas or whatever as back-up.

SWANsat to turn Earth into WiFi Hotspot. said at September 11, 2006 10:06 PM:

500,000 watts of (nuclear) power from 3 GEO sats, with 14km antennae, using the never-used-before W-Band frequency, exclusively licensed to use 10Ghz of spectrum, providing 600 million broadband connections per satellite.

www.swansat.com
www.iostarcorp.com

The Teledesic Chief Architect (now President of IOSTAR) recently made this presentation:

http://csmarts.colorado.edu/presentationpages/34_future_of_space/page_01.htm (intro-nav page)
http://csmarts.colorado.edu/presentationpages/34_future_of_space/Slide45.JPG (corporate capabilities: W-Band)


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