Project Orion to the Stars

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Boris_Badenov

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<p><font size="2"><font color="#000000">The only possible technology in our possession capable of taking us to the stars is a&nbsp;Nuclear Pulse Drive, more commonly referred to as an Orion drive. </font></font></p><p><font size="2"><font color="#000000">Back in the 1970's the British Interplanetary Society designed an unmanned probe that would be capable of traveling to a nearby star (Barnard's Star) within the lifetime of a person, & use current or upcoming technology (no unobtainium allowed <img src="http://sitelife.space.com/ver1.0/content/scripts/tinymce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-wink.gif" border="0" alt="Wink" title="Wink" />). The design they came up with would accelerate to 7.1% of light speed & traverse the distance of 5.9 light years in 50 years time.</font></font></p><p><font size="2">A detailed overview can be seen here. </font></p><p><font size="2">Using this design I believe it would be possible build a ship that could travel the distance to Tim's hypothetical planet 100 lys&nbsp;distance in well under 1000 years.</font></p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font color="#993300"><span class="body"><font size="2" color="#3366ff"><div align="center">. </div><div align="center">Never roll in the mud with a pig. You'll both get dirty & the pig likes it.</div></font></span></font> </div>
 
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DrRocket

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>The only possible technology in our possession capable of taking us to the stars is a&nbsp;Nuclear Pulse Drive, more commonly referred to as an Orion drive. Back in the 1970's the British Interplanetary Society designed an unmanned probe that would be capable of traveling to a nearby star (Barnard's Star) within the lifetime of a person, & use current or upcoming technology (no unobtainium allowed ). The design they came up with would accelerate to 7.1% of light speed & traverse the distance of 5.9 light years in 50 years time.A detailed overview can be seen here. Using this design I believe it would be possible build a ship that could travel the distance to Tim's hypothetical planet 100 lys&nbsp;distance in well under 1000 years. <br />Posted by boris1961</DIV></p><p>Ok.&nbsp; There is more than one Orion out there.&nbsp; You mean the nuclear bomb approach.&nbsp; In the other thread I thought you were refering to the crew exploration vehicle that is being developed now.&nbsp; This one has more promise, but it doesn't exist.&nbsp; </p><p>The site to which you refer talks more about a Daedalus Project that uses confined fusion.&nbsp; That might work, but so far we have not been able to develop a controlled fusion process.&nbsp; If that technology could be developed then perhaps there is a chance.&nbsp; But this site notes that the design is not capable of deceleration, so either you need a bigger vessel with enough fuel and capability to slow down, or it will be a short visit at 12% C.&nbsp; </p><p>It would be interesting to see the calculations that support the ability to reach that velocity.&nbsp; In particular I would like to know how they determined mass fraction and Isp.</p><p>I do believe that any serious attempt to visit other star systems will have to rely on propulsion at least this sophisticated, and probably something that we have yet to conceive.</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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Boris_Badenov

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<p><font size="2">Blame NASA for the confusion. I made the same mistake when they announced the current crop of Lunar transport too.</font></p><p><font size="2">Without question the <font face="Arial">Daedalus probe design could not be used for a manned ship. But, the technology could be scaled &&nbsp;used to build a manned ship capable of transporting a colony to another star.&nbsp;</font></font></p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font color="#993300"><span class="body"><font size="2" color="#3366ff"><div align="center">. </div><div align="center">Never roll in the mud with a pig. You'll both get dirty & the pig likes it.</div></font></span></font> </div>
 
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DrRocket

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Blame NASA for the confusion. I made the same mistake when they announced the current crop of Lunar transport too.Without question the Daedalus probe design could not be used for a manned ship. But, the technology could be scaled &&nbsp;used to build a manned ship capable of transporting a colony to another star.&nbsp; <br />Posted by boris1961</DIV></p><p>Sure.&nbsp; But there is a minor hitch in terms of near term use.&nbsp; The technology doesn't exist.</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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a_lost_packet_

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>..In particular I would like to know how they determined mass fraction and Isp...Posted by DrRocket</DIV></p><p>I don't know if this will answer your question as I don't know what method the site you're referring to used.&nbsp; However, this paper does provide some information on how to determine that- "Effective Specific Impulse of External Nuclear Pulse Propulsion" - Thaine Reynolds, NASA Lewis Research Center</p><p>http://img374.imageshack.us/img374/7342/orionisp1uw7.jpg</p><p>http://img183.imageshack.us/img183/1786/orionisp2vx6.jpg</p><p>*Forgive the format, this is how I orgininally received it. I presume that someone photo'd it from journal pages.&nbsp; I can export it to .pdf if you would prefer that.&nbsp; I have no idea how the sit you're referring arrived at its ISPs.&nbsp; I haven't looked at the site yet. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1">I put on my robe and wizard hat...</font> </div>
 
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qso1

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<p>Make that three Orion concepts.</p><p>I initially thought the OP was talking about the ever popular nuclear bomb "Putt putt" concept from the early 1960s. The website mentioned proposals being restricted to existing technology, no unobtanium. Right now, even nuclear fusion is still "Unobtanium".</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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StrandedonEarthsince1970

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Make that three Orion concepts.I initially thought the OP was talking about the ever popular nuclear bomb "Putt putt" concept from the early 1960s. The website mentioned proposals being restricted to existing technology, no unobtanium. Right now, even nuclear fusion is still "Unobtanium". <br /> Posted by qso1</DIV></p><p>Nuclear fusion has already been achieved by firing several lasers at a tiny deuterium pellet, using inertial confinement, as well as in particle accelerators. What has not been achieved is self-sustained or even just sustained fusion, or fusion which releases more energy than was used to start the fusion.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>I suppose a pulsed fusion drive would be possible with current or almost-current technology, using lasers to fuse deuterium pellets thrown out the back, similar to fission-pulse Orion drive systems. However, a run-of-the-mill nuclear reactor would be need onboard to power the lasers for an interstellar mission. Perhaps ground-based lasers could be used for a fusion-pulse-powered stage zero in a Earth-to-orbit launch system.&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><em><strong>Now where on Earth did I park my UFO?</strong></em></p> </div>
 
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holmec

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>The only possible technology in our possession capable of taking us to the stars is a&nbsp;Nuclear Pulse Drive, more commonly referred to as an Orion drive. Back in the 1970's the British Interplanetary Society designed an unmanned probe that would be capable of traveling to a nearby star (Barnard's Star) within the lifetime of a person, & use current or upcoming technology (no unobtainium allowed ). The design they came up with would accelerate to 7.1% of light speed & traverse the distance of 5.9 light years in 50 years time.A detailed overview can be seen here. Using this design I believe it would be possible build a ship that could travel the distance to Tim's hypothetical planet 100 lys&nbsp;distance in well under 1000 years. <br /> Posted by boris1961</DIV></p><p>Personally I doubt if even the nuclear pulse propulsion alone could get us to the Stars.&nbsp; I would give it a slim chance to get us to Alpha Centari alive.&nbsp; The distance is just too great and the limit with light speed is just too big of a cap.&nbsp; </p><p>&nbsp;I my opinion these studies have omitted the practical living conditions and problems for people on such trips </p><p>&nbsp;Also to make it practical to travel to Alpha Centari, you would need a ship to accelerate at about 30 Gs for 10 days to get up to crusing speed.&nbsp; And of course you need some kind of countermesure for the crew because they cannot stand 30 Gs.&nbsp; (this is from my own personal calculations). </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
 
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qso1

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<p><font color="#800080">Nuclear fusion has already been achieved by firing several lasers at a tiny deuterium pellet, using inertial confinement, as well as in particle accelerators. What has not been achieved is self-sustained or even just sustained fusion, or fusion which releases more energy than was used to start the fusion.</font></p><p>Anotherwords, we have not obtained nuclear fusion on a practical commercial basis, or as a propulsion system...hence the reason I regard it as unobtanium for now. It took way longer just to reach the stage of achieving fusion than originally thought. How many years before sustained fusion will be demonstrated?&nbsp;</p><p><font color="#800080">I suppose a pulsed fusion drive would be possible with current or almost-current technology, using lasers to fuse deuterium pellets thrown out the back, similar to fission-pulse Orion drive systems. However, a run-of-the-mill nuclear reactor would be need onboard to power the lasers for an interstellar mission. Perhaps ground-based lasers could be used for a fusion-pulse-powered stage zero in a Earth-to-orbit launch system. Posted by StrandedonEarthsince1970</font></p><p>Even this would have to be demonstrated, but as with unobtanium or nuclear fusion propulsion. It is possible and in my mind...better than the putt putt blasting of nuclear bombs which would become a costly proposition just in terms of the cost of building enough bombs to power an Orion nuclear putt putt design. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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qso1

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<p><font color="#800080">Personally I doubt if even the nuclear pulse propulsion alone could get us to the Stars.&nbsp; I would give it a slim chance to get us to Alpha Centari alive.&nbsp; The distance is just too great and the limit with light speed is just too big of a cap.&nbsp; &nbsp;I my opinion these studies have omitted the practical living conditions and problems for people on such trips &nbsp;Also to make it practical to travel to Alpha Centari, you would need a ship to accelerate at about 30 Gs for 10 days to get up to crusing speed.&nbsp; And of course you need some kind of countermesure for the crew because they cannot stand 30 Gs.&nbsp; (this is from my own personal calculations). Posted by holmec</font></p><p>I did some calcs for my graphic novel about an Alpha Centauri mission and found that a slightly higher than one "G" accelleration would require about nine months of continuous propulsion system operation to reach approx. 75% C. This resulted in about to 7 years just to get to Alpha "C" once accelleration and decelleration were factored in.</p><p>I decided none of the propulsion systems being discussed today would be adequate without radical changes in design or a complete revision of the laws of physics resulting from new discoveries. Since it was just a graphic novel and not an actual flight capable starship design, I went with an antigravity repulsion sort of system.</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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dragon04

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Blame NASA for the confusion. I made the same mistake when they announced the current crop of Lunar transport too.Without question the Daedalus probe design could not be used for a manned ship. But, the technology could be scaled &&nbsp;used to build a manned ship capable of transporting a colony to another star.&nbsp; <br /> Posted by boris1961</DIV></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The <strong><em>REAL </em></strong>Orion (the one that shoots atomic bombs out its butt and blows them up against a pusher plate) is what you're talking about. I've seen varying estimates on max velocities depending on bomb yield and ship size. IIRC, there were like 3 different configurations of Orions.</p><p>Also, IIRC, the highest velocities topped out at .2<em>c</em>, and the others around .1<em>c</em>. And also, I believe the fastest Orion was the biggest Orion. I'll try to dig up a couple links.</p><p>21-42 years to the Centauri System, 31-62 to Barnard's Star, 40-80 to Sirius, etc.... &nbsp; </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em>"2012.. Year of the Dragon!! Get on the Dragon Wagon!".</em> </div>
 
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DrRocket

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Nuclear fusion has already been achieved by firing several lasers at a tiny deuterium pellet, using inertial confinement, as well as in particle accelerators. What has not been achieved is self-sustained or even just sustained fusion, or fusion which releases more energy than was used to start the fusion.&nbsp;I suppose a pulsed fusion drive would be possible with current or almost-current technology, using lasers to fuse deuterium pellets thrown out the back, similar to fission-pulse Orion drive systems. However, a run-of-the-mill nuclear reactor would be need onboard to power the lasers for an interstellar mission. Perhaps ground-based lasers could be used for a fusion-pulse-powered stage zero in a Earth-to-orbit launch system.&nbsp; <br />Posted by StrandedonEarthsince1970</DIV></p><p>Fusion that is a net consumer of energy is not going to viable for practical propulsion.&nbsp; <br /></p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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a_lost_packet_

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>&nbsp;The REAL Orion (the one that shoots atomic bombs out its butt and blows them up against a pusher plate) is what you're talking about. I've seen varying estimates on max velocities depending on bomb yield and ship size. IIRC, there were like 3 different configurations of Orions.Also, IIRC, the highest velocities topped out at .2c, and the others around .1c. And also, I believe the fastest Orion was the biggest Orion. I'll try to dig up a couple links.21-42 years to the Centauri System, 31-62 to Barnard's Star, 40-80 to Sirius, etc.... &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /> Posted by dragon04</DIV></p><p>Actually, Orion is designed to use a propellant system in space.&nbsp; A nuclear charge would be detonated which then vaporized the propellant, converting it into plasma.&nbsp; The plasma would then strike the pusher plate.&nbsp; A bigger Orion design would be a more efficient and faster design using charges and propellants optimized for its size. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1">I put on my robe and wizard hat...</font> </div>
 
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DrRocket

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>&nbsp;The REAL Orion (the one that shoots atomic bombs out its butt and blows them up against a pusher plate) is what you're talking about. I've seen varying estimates on max velocities depending on bomb yield and ship size. IIRC, there were like 3 different configurations of Orions.Also, IIRC, the highest velocities topped out at .2c, and the others around .1c. And also, I believe the fastest Orion was the biggest Orion. I'll try to dig up a couple links.21-42 years to the Centauri System, 31-62 to Barnard's Star, 40-80 to Sirius, etc.... &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />Posted by dragon04</DIV></p><p>&nbsp;http://www.islandone.org/Propulsion/ProjectOrion.html</p><p>If this evaluation of the Orion is even approximately correct, then I have to wonder a bit about what kind of cargo is envisioned or how you would put people in this thing.&nbsp; Specifically if the velocity increment per explosion is 100 ft/sec then the acceleration must be quite high.&nbsp; This is because the pulse duration is very short.&nbsp; If one assumes a pulse duration of 0.1 millisecond, and I would expect the actuall duration to be much less, then the acceleration level during a pulse would be something like 1,000,000 ft/sec^2.&nbsp; that is on the order of 333,000 gs.&nbsp; Rather like being shot out of a cannon, and not a circus cannon, repeatedly.&nbsp; That would be hard on most things.&nbsp;<br /></p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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a_lost_packet_

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Basically, an extremely over-engineered shock absorber system would have to be in place.&nbsp; The facilities were constructed to begin tests for this but test were never completed.&nbsp; Several systems were discussed and a variety combined in many proposals.&nbsp; As you are probably aware, while absorbing an intial shock might be possible, a return stroke being properly in step with the next shot was something that would have to be fine-tuned.&nbsp; A misfire could be catastrophic.<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1">I put on my robe and wizard hat...</font> </div>
 
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nimbus

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<p>&nbsp; Tokamak shaped reactors have so far been time and money sinks. &nbsp;There was one strangely shaped fusion reactor configuration that basicaly bit the dust very recently. &nbsp;Cold fusion hasn't seemed to make any profitable advances since its hype and later bubble-burst (no pun intended). &nbsp;There are a few other configurations that have some promise, but the one that's nearest to being credible enough and supposed to be giving results soon is the polywell configuration that Bussard pushed for till he passed away late last year.</p><p>&nbsp;There's a discussion group at http://www.talk-polywell.org/bb/index.php &nbsp;Updates at least once a month, and a lot of discussion and brainstorming on theory/design/implications/etc. &nbsp; The first results will be this August. &nbsp;They built the present experimental reactor ("WB7") from scratch in just a few months and will have the Navy (I think that's who's funding it) evaluate it and decide whether to fund further R&D or not.</p><p>No explicit comments yet from the R&D team at EMC2 on how promising things are looking, but so far they are considering selling "turnkey" reactors: &nbsp;See the post by "rnebel" on this page. http://www.talk-polywell.org/bb/viewtopic.php?t=490 &nbsp; Lots more details on that and every other aspect of the polywell reactor at EMC2 and elsewhere is available on those forums.</p><p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Fusion that is a net consumer of energy is not going to viable for practical propulsion.&nbsp; <br /> Posted by DrRocket</DIV></p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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lampblack

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<p>For as long as I can remember, articles have been describing the development of sustained nuclear fusion as an energy source as likely happening "within the next 50 years."</p><p>The earliest such article that I can recall was about 30 years ago -- and the most recent was sometime last week. Yep, it'll happen "within the next 50 years." <img src="http://sitelife.space.com/ver1.0/content/scripts/tinymce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-tongue-out.gif" border="0" alt="Tongue out" title="Tongue out" /> </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font color="#0000ff"><strong>Just tell the truth and let the chips fall...</strong></font> </div>
 
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lightfront

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Basically, an extremely over-engineered shock absorber system would have to be in place.&nbsp; The facilities were constructed to begin tests for this but test were never completed.&nbsp; Several systems were discussed and a variety combined in many proposals.&nbsp; As you are probably aware, while absorbing an intial shock might be possible, a return stroke being properly in step with the next shot was something that would have to be fine-tuned.&nbsp; A misfire could be catastrophic. <br /> Posted by a_lost_packet_</DIV></p><p>In Project Orion by George Dyson, the shock absorption system is discussed along with varied parameters such as frequency of bomb detonation and thickness and mass of the pusher plate. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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a_lost_packet_

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>In Project Orion by George Dyson, the shock absorption system is discussed along with varied parameters such as frequency of bomb detonation and thickness and mass of the pusher plate. Posted by lightfront</DIV></p><p>Yup.&nbsp; It's sitting on my desk atm.&nbsp; A great read as well even if you're not an Orion enthusiast.</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1">I put on my robe and wizard hat...</font> </div>
 
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holmec

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'> 21-42 years to the Centauri System, 31-62 to Barnard's Star, 40-80 to Sirius, etc.... &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /> Posted by dragon04</DIV></p><p>See I would consider those travel times to be impractical.&nbsp; Even with time dialation, 22 years to Alpha C would just shave off 6months of the crew. (ie the trip would take 21.5 years ship's time) approx. </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
 
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