, physicist, nuclear scientist, and designer of the deceptively tiny Davy Crockett nuclear recoilless rifle
, is not quite as famous as one of his other projects: nuclear spacecraft propulsion.
was intended as an interplanetary (and eventually interstellar) vehicle which could achieve Earth orbit with a series of 800 nuclear explosions, each detonated about a second after the other below the spacecraft. It would propel itself through space in a similar fashion, carrying many orders of magnitude more mass than chemical rockets such as the Saturn which would ultimately take men to the moon.
Taylor and others intended a mission to Mars by 1965, but the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963
destroyed all hope to see Orion take flight.
For the interested, "The Curve of Binding Energy"
goes into much more detail, including the U.S. Air Force's plan to turn Orion into a nuclear space battleship (!).
A youtube video of an Orion concept test using conventional explosives is here
(flight footage begins around 0:23).
posted by edguardo
on Feb 1, 2010 -
Return to the moon? Not likely.
"President Barack Obama is essentially grounding efforts to return astronauts to the moon...".
posted by deacon_blues
on Jan 28, 2010 -
The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world's most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010.
posted by srboisvert
on Dec 19, 2009 -
The Physics of Space Battles
"I had a discussion recently with friends about the various depictions of space combat in science fiction movies, TV shows, and books. We have the fighter-plane engagements of Star Wars, the subdued, two-dimensional naval combat in Star Trek, the Newtonian planes of Battlestar Galactica, the staggeringly furious energy exchanges of the combat wasps in Peter Hamilton's books, and the use of antimatter rocket engines themselves as weapons in other sci-fi. But suppose we get out there, go terraform Mars, and the Martian colonists actually revolt. Or suppose we encounter hostile aliens. How would space combat actually go?"
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey
on Dec 17, 2009 -
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year
, NATO may lose in Afghanistan
, the UK gets a regime change
, China needs to chill
, India's factories will overtake its farms
, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum
, the stimulus will need an exit strategy
, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2"
, African football
will unite Korea
, conflict over natural resources will grow
, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled
, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable)
, technology will grow ever more ubiquitous
, we'll all charge our phones via USB
, MBAs will be uncool
, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest
, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world
. And so the Tens
The Economist: The World in 2010
. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane
on Nov 14, 2009 -
On October 9th, NASA spacecraft will run into the moon, and on purpose. The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite
) and its rocket's Centaur
upper stage will impact the moon, with the goal of sending some of the (possibly present) ice above the lunar surface. Once out of the eternal shade of the moon's south pole, sunlight will break the ice up into H+ and OH- molecules, which can be detected by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
). The initial impact site was the crater Cabeus A
, but the target was later changed to Cabeus (proper)
, selected for highest hydrogen concentrations with the greatest level of certainty, and for the high-contrast back drop to detect ejecta and vapor measurements. NASA has provided guides for amateur observations of the impact
, a facebook group
, and a Twitter feed
so you don't miss the moment.
posted by filthy light thief
on Oct 8, 2009 -
Through three giant images, the Gigagalaxy Zoom
project reveals the full sky as it appears with the unaided eye from one of the darkest deserts on Earth, then zooms in on a rich region of the Milky Way to reveal three amazing, ultra-high-resolution images of the night sky that online stargazers can zoom in on and explore in an incredible level of detail.
posted by Effigy2000
on Sep 15, 2009 -
Last Tuesday, The Augstine Commission
- an independent council created earlier this year to study NASA's human spaceflight objectives - released their findings
. While many are responding to the report's grim findings on NASA's budget woes, former aerospace engineer Rand Simberg
has a criticism of his own: "If our attitude toward the space frontier is that we must strive to never, ever lose anyone, it will remain closed. If our ancestors who opened the west, or who came from Europe, had such an attitude, we would still be over there, and there would have been no California space industry to get us to the moon forty years ago. It has never been 'safe' to open a frontier, and this frontier is the harshest one that we've ever faced.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing
on Sep 12, 2009 -
"A directory of ways to participate in space exploration. Interact and connect with the space community."
posted by chrismear
on Aug 4, 2009 -
Astronaut Michael Collins
– "I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of 100,000 miles their outlook could be fundamentally changed. That all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument silenced. The tiny globe would continue to turn, serenely ignoring its subdivisions, presenting a unified façade that would cry out for unified understanding, for homogeneous treatment. The earth must become as it appears: blue and white, not capitalist or Communist; blue and white, not rich or poor; blue and white, not envious or envied."
posted by miss lynnster
on Jul 28, 2009 -