Mission to Mars: Orion nuclear propulsion (remastered) - Orbiter Space Flight Simulator 2010





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Published on Jan 11, 2013

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-- Original uploaded on September 2, 2009 --


Project Orion was the first serious attempt to design a nuclear pulse rocket. The design effort was carried out at General Atomics in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The idea of Orion was to react small directional nuclear explosives against a large steel pusher plate attached to the spacecraft with shock absorbers. Efficient directional explosives maximized the momentum transfer, leading to specific impulses in the range of 6,000 seconds. With refinements a theoretical maximum of 100,000 seconds (1 MN·s/kg) might be possible. Thrusts were in the millions of short tonnes, allowing spacecraft larger than 8×106 short tonnes to be built with 1958 materials.

The reference design was to be constructed of steel using submarine-style construction with a crew of more than 200 and a vehicle takeoff weight of several thousand tonnes. This low-tech single-stage reference design would reach Mars and back in four weeks from the Earth's surface (compare to 12 months for NASA's current chemically-powered reference mission). The same craft could visit Saturn's moons in a seven-month mission (compare to chemically-powered missions of about nine years).

A number of engineering problems were found and solved over the course of the project, notably related to crew shielding and pusher-plate lifetime. The system appeared to be entirely workable when the project was shut down in 1965, the main reason being given that the Partial Test Ban Treaty made it illegal. There were also ethical issues with launching such a vehicle within the Earth's magnetosphere. Calculations showed that the fallout from each takeoff would kill between 1 and 10 people.

Orion's technology is also one of very few known interstellar space drives that could be constructed with known technology.

Some authorities say that President Kennedy initiated the Apollo program to buy off the technical enthusiasts backing the Orion program. The recent book by George Dyson says that one design proposal presented to Kennedy was a space-going nuclear battleship, which so offended him that he decided to end the program.

My Orion is launch for rocket Nova MM S010E-1 using 8 UA1207 120 inch solid motors as first stage, 24 high pressure LH2/Lox engines in the second stage in a plug nozzle arrangement. Total Mass 10,328,000 kg without UA1207, with UA1207 12,882,640 kg (4,24 x Saturn V).


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