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Outward Bound



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Nuclear pulse propulsion concept illustration for my Orion’s Arm future history setting.

This space craft is an extrapolation of technologies explored under a real world advanced propulsion design study, Project Orion.

Image featured: on Winchell Chung’s Atomic Rockets site, Project Orion page, under William Black's 3D Orions.

Project Orion was initiated in 1958 at General Atomics, primarily under auspices of the U.S. Air Force Special Weapons Center, and Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, with later participation by the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center and NASA's Future Projects Office.

Orion reacts small directional nuclear explosives against a large steel pusher plate attached to the spacecraft with shock absorbers. Efficient directional explosives maximize the momentum transfer, leading to specific impulses in the range of 6,000 seconds, or about thirteen times that of the Space Shuttle Main Engine. With refinements a theoretical maximum of 100,000 seconds (1 MN•s/kg) might be possible. Thrusts were in the millions of tons, allowing spacecraft larger than 8 × 10⁶ tons to be built with 1958 materials.

The energy for the propulsion of the nuclear-pulse vehicle is provided by the pulse-unit, it converts the energy released by a nuclear explosion into a well-focused cloud of high velocity propellant vapor – this can be used to propel payloads of hundreds, even thousands of tons.

The pulse-units are ejected via a gas-fired gun, passing through an aperture in the center of the pusher-plate, as they near the detonation point they are armed, at a carefully calculated distance behind the vehicle they detonate.

In space, without an atmosphere to produce a fireball, when the bomb detonates, you get about a millisecond of intense white light.

Image is part of a future historical setting, see my journal entry Orion’s Arm Future History, A Synopsis.

On my Orion's Arm timeline the image would fall during the Outer Solar System Frontier Era.

A Timeline Graph is to be found here: Timeline.

Journal Entries:

For contextual information on the purpose of the Callisto Resource Recovery missions see my essay on Terraforming Mars.

An essay on Nuclear Pulse Propulsion is available here: Orion: Nuclear Pulse Propulsion.

Callisto Mission Images:

Callisto Mission Crew Vehicle Launch

Outward Bound

Falling Toward Periapsis

Discarding Stages

Callisto-Mission Spacecraft Flight Control Station

Callisto Mission Spacecraft Command Deck Overhead

Callisto Mission Spacecraft Crew Quarters

Prospecting Callisto

Mining The Ice

Periapsis: Racing the Clouds of Jove

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© 2013 - 2023 William-Black
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Jimbowyrick1's avatar
Masterful illustrations!