Tag Archives: Project Orion

The atomic rocket that never was

Link here. The article is filled with overstatements and even a few outright errors, such as in the second paragraph when it makes the false assertion that SLS will be “the largest booster ever built.” (The Saturn 5 was more powerful. So was the Soviet Union’s Energia.)

Furthermore, the key to understanding how minor and inconsequencial Project Orion was is to note the total amount of money spent: only $10.5 million. This was merely a design study, something that NASA did (and still does) routinely, most of which never get beyond power-point presentations. Project Orion was similar, never reaching project stage. If it had been done today it would have also been nothing more than a power point presentation.

I also remember when this whole concept got cancelled and was revealed. No one took it seriously, since everyone understood that the technology available in the 1960s was simply not ready for such a project.

Nonetheless, it is interesting reading, especially since the technology today is significantly advanced. We might actually be approaching a time where this concept can finally move to design and construction.