Re: Manhole cover beat Sputnik?

Robert S. Thau (
Fri, 13 Aug 1999 18:57:28 -0400 (EDT)

Eugene Leitl writes:
> There is no attenuation in vacuum, so a nearby nuke exploding
> evaporates a surface layer, which drives the structure in opposite
> direction (actio!=reactio).
> Everything in the atmosphere is different.

Orion was meant to operate in the atmosphere as well as in space...

The propulsion was indeed supposed to be ablative; they demonstrated
this with a bunch of proof-of-concept tests (at ground level) where
nukes kicked nearby stuff around (graphite spheres, aluminum, etc.)

(The Orion project team did later come up with a chemically launched
version which would have gone nuclear only once in orbit, but that was
because atmospheric nuclear explosions had become politically
infeasible, not because of any concern about technical feasibility).