Thursday, July 23, 2015

SciFi Science - Destroying the Death Star

Destruction of planet Despayre in the Original Star Wars Film

Today on Far Future Horizons we join Dr. Michio Kaku for another exciting episode of Sci Fi Science. 

Death Star Super Laser

His mission, to come up with innovative ways to destroy the most dreaded weapon in the know Galaxy - The Death Star.

Schematics of the first Death Star

Dr. Michio Kaku brings physics to bear on the most iconic scene in sci fi and designs a star fighter that could blow up a moon-sized Death Star.

Project Orion Nuclear-Powered Orbital Battleship

One United States Air Force project that came close to creating a real life Death Star was the Orion Nuclear-Powered Orbital Battleship.

In 1955, NACA (later to be known as NASA) was working on a nuclear-powered spaceship for trips to near-Earth orbit up to interstellar travel to neighboring star systems like Alpha Centauri. Nonetheless, the United States Air Force gotten involved in the Project Orion program which they’ve wanted it spacecraft to deliver satellites and crew members to orbiting space stations. However, one of the most radical, but little known USAF Project Orion proposals was the nuclear-powered orbital battleship that was proposed in the late-1950’s. While this system seems like something out of a science fiction novel or a movie, the massive nuclear-powered armed spaceship would orbit high above the Earth and if needed be, unleashes it nuclear payload on multiple targets.

The Orion orbital battleship was supposed to use a massive nuclear pulse rocket engine that used fission material bombs to power the giant spacecraft. Original plan was to launch the spacecraft to orbit using its nuclear-powered rocket from bases in Southwestern United States or from special launch platforms in the ocean like aircraft carriers or modified ships. However, due to safety reasons and nuclear fallout, they’ve decided to launch it instead using chemical rockets to Earth’s orbit. Orion was a giant massive spacecraft which was 286ft which was taller than most skyscrapers in that era and 164ft in diameter. It would had a crew of close to thirty people onboard that would have operated the orbital battleship. The spacecraft would use a special damper or shock absorbers and shielding to protect the crew from radiation from the ship’s engines and space. Nevertheless a unmanned variant of the Orion orbital battleship was planned too Furthermore, Orion also carried five smaller spaceplanes for resupplies, crew replacements, and emergency life boat in case the Orion was having problems or was getting attacked. It was also quite possible that those small spacecraft were used in defensive and offensive roles including protecting the Orion from Soviet spaceplanes and satellites along with providing reconnaissance and strike roles if necessary
Nevertheless though, the main mission for the Orion battleship would be nuclear deterrence against nations like the Soviet Union, China, and Warsaw Pact nations. The orbital battleship would carry up to 500 20MT nuclear warheads in the frontal part of the spaceship which can be fired downwards while orbiting above a target. 

The first and second seasons of Sci Fi Science, hosted by Dr. Michio Kaku is a available on DVD from the Discovery Channel’s online store. 

This episode of SciFi Science is also available from Amazon's Instant Video.

Sci Fi Science  - Destroy the Death Star

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