Project Orion Ground Launch.

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by ProjectOrion, Sep 20, 2004.

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  1. ProjectOrion Banned Banned

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    Orion is one of the great "what if's" of the twentieth century. Today, nuclear powered spaceships seem like little more than laughably naive 1950's science fiction, but it might have been otherwise...and still could be.

    Orion was a project aimed at discovering the feasibility of spaceships driven by nuclear bombs. The initial plan called for manned missions to Mars by 1965 and Saturn by 1970. After seven years of work, the project's technical challenges seemed surmountable, but political obstacles brought the effort to a halt.

    Kind of makes one wonder what might have been possible if only we'd been just that little bit more daring doesn't it. I myself would be quite amenable to new research into the possibility of a ground launch. While it may be impossible to build 100% clean pulse units(bombs) I'm certain we could devise ways of diminishing fallout levels to acceptable levels. Alternative material for bomb casings. Larger bombs to get more bang for less fissionables. Ofcourse that all depends on our definition of "acceptable levels". Personally I'd limit it to one launch and from Antarctica to eliminate any danger to life in the immediate vicinity. Antarctica being completely lifeless.

    As fallout is in fact irradiated matter such as 'ground dirt' which is sucked up during the detonation in the thousands of tons we could probably elimate that too. Just by building a thick steel launchpad. Coated with grease to reduce ablation. Much as the original planners intended to coat the pusher plate with grease between pulses.

    Once its off the ground there are only atmospheric bursts and they are pretty clean.

    Assuming a 100,000 ton vehicle to make use of thermonuclear pulse units( a thousand times cleaner than fission bombs), we could safely lift a further 90,000 tons as cargo and set up all the industrial infrastructure in space necessary to get a permanent foothold out there. You know, mining equipment to turn asteroids into more Orion vehicles, several hundred workers, a couple of large moon bases if we want to get sentimental and plenty of spare pulse units for later forays into the outer system using new vehicles. Assuming we can't locate the raw materials necessary to build pulse units while we are out there.

    A ship of that size would be analogous to a Super Tanker or the QE2. Television rights alone would go a long way towards financing the mission.

    http://www.projectorion.com
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2004
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  3. weed_eater_guy It ain't broke, don't fix it! Registered Senior Member

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    wow, dude, i'm starting to think you're a little nuts... acceptable fallout?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING?!?! You're talking about reshaping ecosystems with every launch man! Although i think it'd be a nice thing to try in space, expensive but impressive none the less, blasting lots and lots of nuclear fuel with radioactive exhaust in Earth's atmosphere, even in Antarctica, is insane! As much as i hate seeing hindered progress, we need to wait for cleaner nuclear fuels before we do something this massive.
     
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  5. cato less hate, more science Registered Senior Member

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    I conquer.
    Also, what happens if the dam thing blows up?!? Or loses control and takes out Uruguay?!?
     
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  7. weed_eater_guy It ain't broke, don't fix it! Registered Senior Member

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    all the penguins in antarctica! they'd be gonners... growing extra parts and limbs and heads and stuff....
     
  8. Facial Valued Senior Member

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    Errr, how about assemble the entire thing from space?
     
  9. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    What if we just drop this project for it isn't a very good idea to start with.
     
  10. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

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    Antarctica being completely lifeless.

    Most certainly after an Orion launch.

    I myself would be quite amenable to new research into the possibility of a ground launch.

    Amenable? Gimme a break, Wayne. You've been obsessed with this ridiculous project for years.
     
  11. ProjectOrion Banned Banned

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    Can you give a reason why? Preferably one not based on a hollywood movie. Back in the 60's hundreds of bombs were detonated on the earths surface. Each created thousands of tons of fallout. Combined, thats a lot of bloody fallout. Yet we are still here despite the gravest predictions from ecowackies. So please explain to me the basis of your belief that a miniscule amount of fallout far from any inhabited region would spell doom and gloom. Right now the US is developing small nukes as bunker busters and the experts predict that with wind direction taken into consideration the collateral damage would be negligible. Surely you would agree that a peaceful application of such technology makes more sense than its current military application?

    On what do you base that bland assumption? I'm really curious.

    Thats what NASA is looking at doing now. Under the title of Pulsed Plasma Rocket Research. Expensive and pandering to irational public fears in my opinion. You lose the advantage of utilising all that lift capacity. To get a really big Orion built in Space you would need hundreds of chemical rocket launches. Ironically, that would be far more polluting than just letting the beast launch itself.

    You are thinking of chemical rockets. Atromic bombs have never accidentally detonated. they require a specific sequence of events to trigger. Even if one miraculously went bang in the cargo hold the others wouldn't follow suit. Not that such a thing is possible anyway. Another advantage over big nasty fireworks.

    Very true. What's your point?

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  12. ProjectOrion Banned Banned

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    There's no need to build the steel launchpad in the middle of an Adelie or Emperor penguin breeding ground. There are two possibilities. A sea platform or a launchpad far inland away from any life. Its the second I find most appealing. The sea platform eradicates all fallout except for the platform itself, bomb schrapnel and minute traces of atmospheric dust. However, marine life in the immediate vicinity would be affected. It would take a few hours for the radiation to disperse and fall below background levels. Inland we eliminate any serious threat to life.

    Remember that over 10,000 people die every year from coal burning and over a million people a year in car accidents. An Orion launch would lead to unprecedented access to space and off-earth technologies which could reduce our dependance on fossil fuels. That means an Orion launch would in fact save millions of lives.
     
  13. geodesic "The truth shall make ye fret" Registered Senior Member

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    Of course, if we have a rocket launched by nuclear weapons people will stop using their cars. :bugeye:
    And again, the millions of people who die in car accidents don't die because the car uses an IC engine.
    Thirdly, anyone who 'cares' about the environment will protest the 'desecration of an unspoiled natural landscape'.
    Finally, how are people going to get tothis launch site in the centre of Antarctica? My guess is, they'll fly - with fossil fuels.
    What we need is a space elevator.

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  14. cato less hate, more science Registered Senior Member

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    the space elevator idea does not work well; you have to get orbital velocity somehow still. My idea is: if you could build a "space elevator" out of bucky tubes or something, then you aught to be able to make it slightly shorter and make it slightly parabolic (like a square root graph, so at the end you are pointing somewhat horizontal) with a maglev/railgun type system on it to get it up to speed.
     
  15. geodesic "The truth shall make ye fret" Registered Senior Member

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    The space elevator does work well, as the energy lost when going into orbit is regained by the capsules coming down. If it weren't for friction etc., you could have a completely closed system, provided the total mass ascending is the same as the total mass descending.
     
  16. cato less hate, more science Registered Senior Member

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    how do you get into orbit? you have to get 7.9km/s horizontal velocity somehow.
     
  17. geodesic "The truth shall make ye fret" Registered Senior Member

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    That's easy, you just have the centre of mass of the elevator at the geostationary orbit height, with a counterweight on the end of the elevator (such as a large asteroid) to balance the mass.
     
  18. cato less hate, more science Registered Senior Member

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    will that be enough? (didn't do the math) I mean of course if you go all the way out to geosync, but that is almost 36,000km!!!!!111oneoneone
     
  19. cato less hate, more science Registered Senior Member

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    no, its just something people do to make fun of those who let off shift too early.

    *edit* p.s. I dont think it will work unless you go all the way up to geosync.
     
  20. geodesic "The truth shall make ye fret" Registered Senior Member

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    Not quite, the counterweight has to be above geosync, otherwise the centre of mass will never be at geosync. Therefore, getting off at the counterweight will fling you out into space.
     
  21. geodesic "The truth shall make ye fret" Registered Senior Member

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    I decided to do a little research before answering your post. Firstly, the mass is not insignificant, you'll end up winding the elevator around the Earth, not a good thing. For more info on space elevator design and construction, try this site:
    http://www.isr.us/Downloads/niac_pdf/contents.html
    Certainly detailed enough to answer any queries I might have.
     
  22. cato less hate, more science Registered Senior Member

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    I am not trying to be condescending with this question; I really am interested in the answer. how does one account for the slight tilt of the earth? Slack in the cable?
     
  23. geodesic "The truth shall make ye fret" Registered Senior Member

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    Slight tilt related to what?
     
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