Encyclopedia Astronautica
Orion Starship - Heat Sink


American nuclear pulse orbital launch vehicle. The heat sink version of Dyson's starship would have a pusher plate made of copper. This would require 5 million tonnes of exposed surface to absorb and then reradiate 1 megaton of bomb energy. The plate would have to be 20 km in diameter.

15 billion kg of deuterium would be used in 30 million bombs. The spacecraft would have an empty weight of 10 million tons and a loaded weight of 40 million tons. The bombs would explode 120 km behind the pusher plate at 1000-second intervals over 500-year acceleration and deceleration periods. Payload would be several million tonnes, enough to house a city of 20,000 people. The starship would reach a velocity of 1000 km/sec. Effective exhaust velocity would be 150,000 seconds. The cost would be equal to the entire Gross National Product of the United States. This generation ship would take 1800 years to reach Alpha Centauri.

Status: Design 1967.
Gross mass: 40,000,000,000 kg (88,000,000,000 lb).
Diameter: 20,000.00 m (65,000.00 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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