Saturday, January 25, 2014

To Mars and Beyond by A-Bomb

Project Orion represents one of the grandest and most audacious “might have beens” in the fifty year history of space exploration. I have a special interest in this particular project because Project Orion may yet serve as an essential element in a future planetary defence project as George Dyson has hinted in a recent TED talk presentation.

Today on Far Future Horizons we present the BBC documentary To Mars By A-Bomb - The Secret History of Project Orion.

To Mars by A-Bomb - The Secret History of Project Orion (BBC) The extraordinary yet true account of a secret US government-backed attempt to build a spaceship the size of an ocean liner and send it to Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, propelled by thousands of miniature nuclear bombs. Beginning in 1958 Project Orion ran until 1965, employing some of the best scientists in the world, including the brilliant British mathematician and physicist Freeman Dyson. "Freeman Dyson is one of the few authentic geniuses I've ever met", says Arthur C. Clarke. "Orion isn't crazy. It would work. The question isn't whether we could do it, but whether we should do it". The film uncovers a contemporary angle to Project Orion. Arthur C. Clarke states that today's generation are once again serious about going to Mars and that NASA has once more become interested in similar nuclear technology as used by Project Orion in the early 60s.

The film has exclusive interviews with Ted Taylor, who ran The Project Orion and who is also the most legendary nuclear weapon designer of all time; and Freeman Dyson who is one of the greatest theoretical physicists and mathematicians that has lived this century. Clarke talks about how he originally wrote the screenplay for Space Odyssey 2001 and he describes how he referenced The Project Orion and its use of nuclear explosives within the plot of the screenplay.

However by the time it came to filming, the nuclear references were dropped as Stanley Kubrick had become very anti-nuclear bombs and his special effects team were unable to come up with an idea as to how to visualize the actual impact of the technology.

To Mars By A-Bomb - The Secret History of Project Orion - BBC - Nuclear Propulsion - (FULL)

George Dyson reveals Project Orion back in 2002 at TED Talk

Project Orion: A Re-Imagining
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