Encyclopedia Astronautica
Orion Test Article

Orion Test Vehicle
Preparation of Orion pulse test vehicle.
American nuclear pulse test vehicle. The original test article for Project Orion had a total mass of 133 kg including its bullet-shaped outer shell.

Six charges, each with 1.04 kg of C4 high explosive, were ejected from the rear of the pusher plate and exploded 866 mm behind the plate. An initial charge of 452 kg of gunpowder in a mortar-like launch cylinder got the craft going. The original article was too heavy to accelerate after running out of momentum from the original charge.

Gross mass: 133 kg (293 lb).
Height: 1.20 m (3.90 ft).
Diameter: 1.00 m (3.20 ft).

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See also
  • Orion Nuclear-pulse drive launch vehicle seriously developed by General Atomics in the United States from 1955-1965. The design allowed vast payloads of hundreds of tons to be hurled to the planets. By 1958 the Orion team saw themselves in direct competition with Von Braun's chemical rockets. They hoped to a land a huge manned expedition on Mars by 1964 and tour the moons of Saturn by 1970. However politically NASA would not argue for the exception to the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty necessary to allow firing of nuclear explosions in space. More...

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