noahvail
'The Starship and the Canoe' is a delightful double biography f Freeman and George Dyson. Whilr it does not have the technical detail of this excellent article, it gives us insight into the process and the people behind it, and of course the effect on the Dyson family.
KaiserPingo
I'm so sad, that none of this happened. Space-wise we are way behind where we should be. In the 70's I dreamed of things like this to happen, within the next 10 - 20 years. Instead almost nothing happened.
GeoffG
Great to read this article. I picked up a copy of 'Project Orion' from a second-hand bookshop about a year ago and was absolutely spellbound by it. Immensely detailed and a fascinating & exciting time in the US. Brilliant young scientists from many parts of the world working on this great project. I came away thinking to myself 'this project is not really dead - it's just resting. Resting until new technologies make it more practical.'
Joe Henderson
Thank you for such a thorough and fascinating essay on this program. For an excellent fictional take on an Orion-style spaceship, read "Orion Shall Rise" by Poul Anderson.
Fearnow
If I may recommend... http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/ An apparently endless (and entertaining) repository for information on Atomic Rockets.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
I have been putting this in my comments for years! As with the nuclear airplane, I was surprised to see how far it had really gotten. I can see a nuclear fusion powered rail gun being built on the moon, powered by locally mined He3 and launching ship sections made of locally mined material. This would confine the radionuclides to deep space. When it reaches 10 % the speed of light, the interstellar protons will have enough energy to fuse merely by hitting a target. The ship would then be able to accelerate indefinitely but ever more slowly.
Magnetron
Really excellent article and fascinating, a great read. I'd like to see more in-depth stuff like this on New Atlas, not to say that the general articles are bad in any way. Keep up the good work.
ezeflyer
We need very careful regulations to prevent massive disasters from launch accidents, but it could be necessary to have something standing by to avoid an asteroid impact. If such a rocket fills the bill, it could be built under UN auspices and left ready just in case. Left up to artificial intelligence to operate however, would it care about potential loss of lives and earth habitat? Looking at it from the perspective of the mounting space junk problem from tests, would it be ethical to add lethal nukes to it?
JimFox
'Incredible' is one word; others are farcical, ridiculous, nonsensical... Although interesting, it's baffling that so much money was wasted on a flawed concept; travel beyond near- Earth objects will ALWAYS be limited by human lifespan & other factors connected to physical & psychological effects that have come to light after long spells on the ISS. As for light-speed [or near] the accelerations needed, radiation doses, etc. would be beyond the capacity of our frail human bodies. Mars is next-to-impossible for these very reasons & I doubt any successful mission within 50 years. Get real, folks- Star Trek was FICTION.
Nik
A very interesting article, which I enjoyed. A stick can be used to support a food plant, or to beat people with. So all projects that start as peaceful can be abused. As an avid SciFi reader throughout the 60's, it's an eternal disappointment to me that non of the most exciting stories are ever likely to approach reality, in my time, or anyone's presently living. It shows perhaps how the visions and aspirations of many of the same generation as me just slowly evaporated into nothing. As the point was made in the article, the potential for this science to be diverted for ill, is frightening, but maybe if the money used to perpetrate wars, was instead put into projects such as this, then the impetus for terrorism would never have developed, and the world would have been a far better place.