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projectorion
2005-Sep-03, 06:15 AM
http://www.angelfire.com/stars2/projectorion/orionusa.jpg

The Manhattan Project is over ... The Space Race hasn't begun. (http://projectorion.proboards28.com/index.cgi?board=article&action=display&thread=1124331127)

by Scott Hawker

Here's a great idea for a science fiction movie straight out of the 1950's:
It's before the era of sputnik. The space race hasn't quite started yet. A bunch of premier rocket scientists are looking for something to do. World War II is over. The bomb has been built. The Manhattan Project has come and gone. A bunch of nuclear physicists are looking for something to do.

Let's make it interesting. We don't want just any scientists working on this new top secret project. Let's start a project using Freeman Dyson, Stanislaw Ulam, Theodore Taylor, and Cornelius Everett. After a while, we'll even bring Wernher Von Braun into the picture.

Who are these men? Freeman Dyson is an English-born American physicist and mathematician. In one of his scientific papers, Dyson theorized that a technologically advanced society could completely surround its native star in order to maximize the capture of the star's available energy. (Remember the Dyson Sphere episode of Star Trek the Next Generation? That was straight from Dyson's paper). He was awarded the Max Planck medal in 1969, and winner of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 2000. Currently he is the president of the Space Studies Institute. Not a bad resume. (Available from: wikipedia.org (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeman_Dyson) [Accessed 23rd Feb 2005])

"Stanislaw Ulam was a gifted mathematician who, during the course of his career, made significant contributions to set theory, topology, ergodic theory, probability, cellular automata theory, the study of nonlinear processes, the function of real variables, mathematical logic, and number theory. Perhaps his greatest achievement was the development of the Monte Carlo method for solving complex mathematical problems by electronic random sampling, but he made equally noteworthy contributions in hydrodynamics (three-dimensional fluid flow), ... and in fields as disparate as physics, biology and astronomy. Yet despite the breadth of his scholarship, Ulam is most often remembered for the central role he played in the early development of the American hydrogen bomb." He had a long life that reached across continents, oceans and universities; and that spanned the end of the last European empire, two world wars, and the age of nuclear weapons, which his genius helped make possible. (Available from: aulam.org (http://www.aulam.org/stanulam.htm) [Accessed 23rd Feb 2005])

Dr. Theodore Taylor, who worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory at the height of the cold war, was renowned as a designer of fission bombs of minimal size and maximal bang. "He was the first man in the world to understand what you can do with three or four kilograms of plutonium, that making bombs is an easy thing to do, that you can, so to speak, design them freehand." Preternaturally inept at ordinary tasks (parking a car defeated him), he became an artist of the fission bomb, taking the massive nuclear weapons developed for the Manhattan Project and making them smaller and lighter without sacrificing explosive power. Over the next seven years, he designed a series of ever-smaller bombs, whose cunning names - Scorpion, Wasp, Bee, Hornet - captured both their size and their sting. (Available from: wagingpeace.org (http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/2004/11/05_fox_theodore-taylor-dies.htm) [Accessed 23rd Feb 2005])

Cornelius Everett wrote a paper in 1955 that was immediately classified. It purported to detail how to use nuclear propulsion to power a spacecraft. Perfect - that will fit right into the story.

Wernher Von Braun was one of the world's first and foremost rocket engineers and a leading authority on space travel. Mr. Braun joined NASA and helped make mankind's journey to the moon possible.

Now that we have some notable scientists and interesting ideas, why not come up with a story? Let's call it Project Orion. In fact, as you can probably guess, this is in fact a true story. Project Orion really happened. "Like cheap, shiny space suits and bug-eyed rubber monsters, nuclear-powered spaceships today seem like little more than laughably na´ve 1950s science fiction tropes." However, "[if Orion has gone forward] it would have made our current space shuttle and space station projects look like covered wagons in the age of autos. If history had taken just a slightly different direction, we could have had several building size bases on the moon by the early seventies, probably sent manned expeditions to Mars and even beyond by the 80's." (Available from: amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0000AZW7M/ref=lpr_g_1/102-9275265-5787357?v=glance&s=books) [Accessed 23rd Feb 2005])

"The race to the moon, in the forms of Project Apollo and the still-shadowy Soviet lunar program, dominated manned space flight during the decade of the 1960's. In the United States, the project sequence Mercury-Gemini-Apollo succeeded in putting roughly sixty people into space, twelve of them on the moon. Yet, during the late 1950's and early 1960's, the U.S. government sponsored a project that could possibly have placed 150 people, most of them professional scientists, on the moon, and could even have sent expeditions to Mars and Saturn. This feat could conceivably have been accomplished during the same period of time as Apollo, and possibly for about the same amount of money. The code name of the project was Orion."

"The idea of an 'atomic drive' was a science-fiction cliche by the 1930's, but it appears that Stanislaw Ulam and Frederick de Hoffman conducted the first serious investigation of atomic propulsion for space flight in 1944, while they were working on the Manhattan Project."

"Taylor and Dyson were convinced that the approach to space flight being pursued by NASA (which had just been created in January 1958) was the wrong one. Von Braun's chemical rockets in their opinion were very expensive, had very limited payloads, and were essentially useless for flights beyond the moon. The Orion workers wanted a spaceship that was simple, rugged, capacious, and above all affordable. Taylor originally called for a ground launch, probably from the U.S. nuclear test site at Jackass Flats, Nevada. The vehicle has been described as looking like a bishop's miter or the tip of a bullet, sixteen stories high"

"At a time when the U.S. was struggling to put a single man into orbit aboard a modified military rocket, Taylor and Dyson were developing plans for a manned voyage of exploration through much of the solar system. The original Orion design called for 2000 pulse units, far more than enough to attain Earth escape velocity. "Our motto was 'Mars by 1965, Saturn by 1970'", recalls Dyson. Orion would have been more akin to the rocket ships of science fiction than to the cramped capsules of Gagarin and Glenn. One hundred and fifty people could have lived aboard in relative comfort; the useful payload would have been measured in thousands of tons. Orion would have been built like a battleship, with no need for the excruciating weight-saving measures adopted by chemically-propelled spacecraft."

"Von Braun became an enthusiastic Orion supporter, but he was able to make little headway among higher-level administration officials." (Available from: islandone.org (http://www.islandone.org/Propulsion/ProjectOrion.html) [Accessed 23rd Feb 2005])

So why didn't it ever take off, if Orion was such a great idea? One was a fear that the nuclear bombs would contaminate the atmosphere during takeoff. Another obstacle was the anti nuclear proliferation treaty which made it illegal to explode nuclear weapons in the atmosphere. And of course there was the space race, in full swing. "Overshadowed by the moon race, Orion was forgotten by almost everybody." After seven years of work, political obstacles brought the effort to a halt. It's really too bad; i'd have really liked to lived in that world.

***************************************

Me too.
:'(

I found this article while looking for material on Stanislaw Ulam. One criticism that I recieved for my own article 'The Case for Orion' was that I didn't delve deeply enough into the subject of that particular super genius.

I liked this article for it's description of the Orioneer's involved. For those of us who aren't nuclear physicists, it's a handy little guide with some good links.

I think Orion would make a fantastic movie. It was actually the basis of the ships used in 'Deep Impact' and '2001: A Space Odyssey'. But somewhere between the script and the movie releases it was killed off. Thanks a lot Kubrick and Hollywood.

That 'Deep Impact' ship looked nothing like Orion.

antoniseb
2005-Sep-03, 10:07 PM
Hi Wayne,

First, is this copyrighted material that has been cut and pasated from elsewhere? If so, we need to create a link to it instead. If not, do you have Scott's permission to post it here.

Second, we already have a thread about the Orion project, and would prefer to have this merge with it. If you do have permission for this post let me know, and I will merge the tow threads. If not, let me know, and I will delete this thread, and you can add something of your own to the old thread.

projectorion
2005-Sep-04, 09:38 AM
I didn't post this thread under the name of 'projectorion'. I posted as 'Wayne Smith'. That's pretty frikkin strange.


Hi Wayne,

Hi Antoniseb,


First, is this copyrighted material that has been cut and pasated from elsewhere?
Yes.


If so, we need to create a link to it instead.
We or me?


If not, do you have Scott's permission to post it here.
Yes.


Second, we already have a thread about the Orion project, and would prefer to have this merge with it.
Why?

Do you put all your chemical rocket articles in one thread too? Curious.


If you do have permission for this post let me know, and I will merge the tow threads.

What a strange thing to do? Do many new visitors even bother to read such long and unwieldy discussions. Personally I skip anything over two pages long. Who has the time?

Bury it wherever you like.


If not, let me know, and I will delete this thread, and you can add something of your own to the old thread.

Don't forget to sign everything in triplicate and stamp it.

The Bad Astronomer
2005-Sep-04, 09:49 AM
ProjectOrion, your attitude is unbecoming. Moreover, being sarcastic to a moderator is not a great idea. Amnesty only goes so far, so I strongly urge you to leave that attitude at the door when posting here.

projectorion
2005-Sep-04, 10:29 AM
What attitude? Unbecoming? What on earth are you talking about? I asked some questions. Does that terrify you so much? Writing doesn't even have a tone so what's all this attitude business? Is that the best excuse you can invent for the ban you are about to issue?

Go ahead and ban me again BA. Whatever gives you joy. I certainly won't lose any sleep over it.

You are starting to sound more like a Big Brother than a Bad Astronomer (http://www.******************).

Relax. Take a chill pill and stop going all dictatorial every five minutes. It'll work wonders for your blood pressure. Not still ticked off over that 'Ape Experiment' are you?

It's called humour old chap.
:)

By the way, what did you think of my review of Bad Astronomy?
Bad Astronomy: Road Tested! (http://projectorion.proboards28.com/index.cgi?board=astro&action=display&thread=1123905106)

LunarOrbit
2005-Sep-04, 01:32 PM
By the way, what did you think of my review of Bad Astronomy?
Bad Astronomy: Road Tested! (http://projectorion.proboards28.com/index.cgi?board=astro&action=display&thread=1123905106)


Perhaps some people would feel bitter about being banned from a forum. I'm used to it. Besides, I don't believe in getting bitter. Better to get revenge!!!!


That sounds like the Wayne I know.

projectorion
2005-Sep-04, 01:46 PM
Hi LunarOrbit,
How is your anti-nuclear friend Yales getting along?

Protested any microwave ovens lately?

:)

LunarOrbit
2005-Sep-04, 01:48 PM
Hacked any forums lately?

projectorion
2005-Sep-04, 01:51 PM
No. Have you? How about your good chum Yales? You had better plead the fifth on that one.

Glom
2005-Sep-04, 01:56 PM
I think you misinterpretted the reason for your banning. I think it was a bad attitude that got you banned. If you remain civil this time, you should be fine.

BTW, what do you think of my site (http://www.geocities.com/freedomforfission)?

projectorion
2005-Sep-04, 02:00 PM
I recall why I was banned last time. I was there.

As for my attitude, that's fixed. If somebody wants to ban me for being honest then I won't get all teary eyed. Most forums on the net aren't worth visiting anyway. Those I'm not welcome at aren't worth my time.

What happened to free speech?

Glom
2005-Sep-04, 02:02 PM
In that case, we shouldn't have a problem.

projectorion
2005-Sep-04, 02:04 PM
That is probably the best geocities page I've ever seen.

The only thing I can find to fault it with is that it's a geocities page.

Glom
2005-Sep-04, 02:10 PM
That is probably the best geocities page I've ever seen.

Thank you.


The only thing I can find to fault it with is that it's a geocities page.

Well, it seemed like the easiest way to start a website, which probably accounts for its poor reputation of overall content.

projectorion
2005-Sep-04, 02:19 PM
Tell me about it. I chose AngelFire for similar reasons. Not what you might call a leader. I'm still learning basic html.

antoniseb
2005-Sep-04, 03:07 PM
We or me?
Do you put all your chemical rocket articles in one thread too? Curious.
What a strange thing to do? Do many new visitors even bother to read such long and unwieldy discussions. Personally I skip anything over two pages long. Who has the time?
Bury it wherever you like.
Don't forget to sign everything in triplicate and stamp it.

My preference is for you to include it as a link, or to modify it to include the line "reproduced with permission from ..."

Concerning chemical rocket articles, we do have a single thread that discusses liquid vs. solid fuel rockets. Most space probes are launched by chemical rockets, but the articles about these probes are not about the chemicals or their current advantages over some other means of propulsion. Likewise we try to maintain single threads about solar sails, ion drives, and other means of propulsion. The exception is that news stories get their comments in their own threads, so when Cosmos One was being launched, it had its own threads.

Concerning reading only the tail of a thread, I suspect you are like most people in this, so we would add your messages to the tail, where they will be seen, and where they will move that thread to near the top of the most recently updated threads.

Concerning signing in triplicate and stamping, that sounds like gentle mocking for me needing to make sure the rules are followed. I'm sure you meant well, but I'd prefer to be allowed to just do what I have to do without such barbs.

The Bad Astronomer
2005-Sep-04, 08:39 PM
projectorion, your post was sarcastic and rude. Of course writing can display an attitude, have a tone. That's why some books can start revolutions.

Think this through: amnesty for banned people was a choice, not a fait accompli. You could have been banned from this forum from the start. The fact that you were not means that I am willing to give some people a chance.

You are abusing this chance. You have been rude, sarcastic, and provocative, and I am not the only one to notice.

So I will make this very clear: clean up the posts and leave the attitude at home.

Gillianren
2005-Sep-04, 10:00 PM
What happened to free speech?

no one's saying you can't come out in favor of Project Orion, or anything else, for that matter. you're just being asked to be polite, which I don't see as any big deal.

besides, as has been established repeatedly, while you can say (almost) anything you want, Phil--or I guess now the moderator team; boy, I'm going to take a while getting used to that--doesn't have to provide you the bandwidth to do it.

Moose
2005-Sep-04, 10:20 PM
Right.

Projectorion, it's not what you say that's the problem, it's how you say it.

projectorion
2005-Sep-05, 12:44 AM
My preference is for you to include it as a link, or to modify it to include the line "reproduced with permission from ..."


Next time? Do you mean now? I thought it would save people time but I can be flexible. Links and nothing else it is.


projectorion, your post was sarcastic and rude. Of course writing can display an attitude, have a tone. That's why some books can start revolutions.

You promote book burnings too? That doesn't surprise me.


Think this through: amnesty for banned people was a choice, not a fait accompli. You could have been banned from this forum from the start. The fact that you were not means that I am willing to give some people a chance.

I wasn't banned here. Only at your little universe. I know you are itching to press the button and nuke me. I've already told you to go ahead. What are you waiting for? My attitude is good as is. I'm not changing for you or any other dictator. Do your worst. I'm not changing and I can live without this board.


You are abusing this chance. You have been rude, sarcastic, and provocative, and I am not the only one to notice.

You are trying to assert your position and I'm just being me.


So I will make this very clear: clean up the posts and leave the attitude at home.

You are starting to repeat yourself. Stop blustering and just get on with it. I don't like threats.

In fact I don't think I'll waste any more time on talking with you. There are more far more interesting people in this world. Hurry up and ban me again so I don't have to see your messages from on high any longer.

Gillanren,

no one's saying you can't come out in favor of Project Orion, or anything else, for that matter. you're just being asked to be polite, which I don't see as any big deal.

I am as polite as I'm going to get. It doesn't help to be talked down to though. I'm a rough crude simple straightforward Australian guy who generally hates idle chit chat. All this political nonsense is just plain silly in my opinion but I don't kowtow to anyone. Especially someone whose main claim to fame is rubbishing a patently stupid concept such as 'faked lunar landings'. Personally I wouldn't waste a whole book on stating such a bleeding obvious truth. It's a sad fact that without lunar conspirawackies around we would probably never have even heard of Phil Plait. I don't swear or suffer fools gladly. I don't attack people but ideas. If my style is unwelcome then there is only one solution. Ban me.


besides, as has been established repeatedly, while you can say (almost) anything you want, Phil--or I guess now the moderator team; boy, I'm going to take a while getting used to that--doesn't have to provide you the bandwidth to do it.

Ofcourse they don't have to provide me with any bandwidth. He can ban me any time he wants to and I've told him to stop threatening me and get on with it.

Looks like I've got another email from Fraser. That makes about 10 since yesterday. Will look back in later to see if there are any more fun discussions happening.

R.A.F.
2005-Sep-05, 01:45 AM
In fact I don't think I'll waste any more time on talking with you. There are more far more interesting people in this world. Hurry up and ban me again so I don't have to see your messages from on high any longer.

I don't understand why you're posting here if you have such little interest in...well...posting here.

The sad thing is that project orion (the project not the poster) is an interesting idea. One that I wouldn't mind discussing. But projectorion (the poster not the project) seems to be going out of his way to make any discussion impossible.

Oh well...

Andromeda321
2005-Sep-05, 03:01 AM
What RAF said. I'd like to discuss the idea myself, but somehow don't feel that this thread would contribute anything positive to the idea.
Really though, projectorion, what's the problem here? All that was asked from you was if an idea that wasn't yours was properly aknowledged, then you go off on your little soapbox as if that was what you were waiting for. I can't help but wonder what you wanted to happen in this thread, really, because you knew full well what the consequences would be from going off in a sarcastic and rude manner on this forum. No one is forcing you to post.

Fraser
2005-Sep-05, 03:03 AM
It's been fun. I'm closing the thread.