The Story of Orion
How It Worked
Project Orion was a US project to develop a spacecraft powered by nuclear explosions. Although it may sound implausible at first glance, research carried out by leading scientists and engineers of the day, including Freeman Dyson, indicated that such a project was not only feasible but would vastly outperform any chemical rocket system ever developed or even conceived - including Saturn V (used in the Apollo program), the Space Shuttle, and the new Ares system which is still under development (the crew module for Ares is also known as "Orion", but it is unrelated to the original Project Orion).
It should also be noted that supporters of Project Orion included Werner von Braun, who of course developed the German V-2 rocket and later became a leading figure in NASA. Werner von Braun was reportedly initially skeptical, but later became an enthusiastic supporter of Orion. Other prominent supporters of the project, included the Nobel prize winning physicist Niels Bohr, visionary and author Arthur C. Clarke, and the then head of US Strategic Air Command, General Thomas S. Power.
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