Aug 292010

Forging ahead on this project, working multiple angles at once. One project currently in works is collating all my NPP-based CAD drawings, and figuring out what more I need to do. As it turns out, I’ve a fair amount yet to do.

It is my expectation that the book will be loaded with diagrams, both new ones of my own creation, and as many of the original diagrams as possible. Additionally, it is my hope that a good deal of new color artwork will be created for the book. But that particular decision is a ways off yet.

I’ve taken the widely separated and sometimes densely-mashed-together CAD drawings and started to put them into their own C-sized sheets with a proper border. Below you can see a bunch of ’em… not a one of which I’d declare finished. Hopefully the resolution is high enough to make them look appealing, and low enough to be damned frustrating, so that you are left with an overwhelming urger to see to it that this book project is completed. If that urge causes you to shower me with cash, so much the better…

Depending upon the detail and interestingness of the design being shown, several sheets could be devoted to it. For example, seen here are external views of the Orion Battleship, inboard profiles of it, the first starts at external views showing all the primary ports and doors open and views of the landing boats.





















If interested, take a look at the first one with the list of subjects. Note the apparently random distribution of drawing numbers to topics; this is because I listed topics in the order in which they occured to me, not because of any particular logic. If I’ve forgotten something (and I know I have… I need to put the Orion from “Orion Shall Rise” on there), let me know.

NOTE: Once again, the topic of the book is nuclear pulse propulsion, not “starships” or “nuclear propulsion.”

 Posted by at 5:37 pm
  • John

    This is Awesome – I have yet to pull the trigger on NPP with Fantastic Plastic but I can easily stuff another book on my shelf.
    Hope your job search comes out in a positive mode.

  • jcmiller

    Awesome! Glad to see the Michael made the list.

    Longshot? Granted there are only a few very crude images in the U.S. Naval Academy report.

    The “Daban Urnud” from the recent Neal Stephenson novel Anathem? If you’ve not read this, e-mail me an address and I’d be happy to buy you a copy.

  • admin

    > Anathem?

    I’ve got a copy (used book store, of course), but haven’t gotten around to reading it. Trying to get to as much of the fictional Orion stuff that I can (from the list on Wiki). Just read Varley’s “Golden Globe,” which has an Orion but describes it not at all; read Bergin’s “Hive,” which has a Chinese Orion that is undescribed except for getting the physics way wrong (21 pulses launches a manned vehicle from the surface of Earth to orbit? Not bloody likely). “Stone Dogs” has Orions in it, but doesn;t describe them; “Empire of the Atom” was supposed to have Orions in it, but I didn’t see ’em. With literature, there seem to be few uses of Orion where the author makes an effort to describe it. The two outliers are of course “Footfall” and “Orion Shall Rise.”

  • jcmiller

    The Daban Urnud is described in more detail than most of those others, maybe not quite as much detail as the Michael. I’m not sure how practical/effective/safe the pusher plate would be, but my memory of the exact description is a little fuzzy. I won’t spoil the details. The interior arrangement of the ship is described in some detail but seems structurally improbable (let’s just say there’s lots of heavy stuff spinning at 1g). Anyway the book is one that I think people either love or hate. I loved it, but YMMV.

  • Pat Flannery

    That third drawing still looks way too much like Jules Verne’s Moon cannon shell to be taken seriously.

  • Michael Holt
  • admin


    That… is awesome. And surprisingly timely.

    > looks way too much like Jules Verne’s Moon cannon shell

    Except unlike Verne’s cannon shell, *that* actually flew.

  • Oh, sign me up for a copy (or three).

    You might want to get in touch with Aldo.

  • Pat Flannery

    It flew if you define shooting it into the air from a mortar using gunpowder and then having its ejected explosive charges not generate enough thrust to keep it accelerating as flying.
    At least the stripped-down “Hot Rod” model shown in the first illustration could actually actually move upwards under its own power after the original one flopped.

  • MrTolliver

    What CAD package are you using? Inventor, Solidworks?

  • admin

    An ancient version of AutoCAD for 2D (I’ve never seen anything better for 2D), and Rhino for 3D.

  • djolds1

    The novel “The Stone Dogs” (Alternate History, S. M. Stirling, 1990) has an extensive focus on multiple generations of fictional nuclear pulse spacecraft.

  • admin

    My recollection of “Stone Dogs” has the Orions being left pretty well undescribed. However, it’s been quite a number of years.

  • Pat Flannery

    Orion had a number of “iffy” aspects to the concept, and one that pretty well nailed it before it ever got rolling.
    The iffy aspects were:

    1.) The total amount of national plutonium production that would be required on a yearly basis to support the number of drive bomblets need for multiple ships of this type flying on a yearly basis.

    2.) If they could get the oil sprayer for the drive plate to reliably cover its whole surface with oil between each bomblet detonation.

    3.) If the shock absorber system could be reliably reset after each detonation, given their fast timing and the stresses it would be under with firing that many bomblets in fast succession.

    4.) Possible EMP effects of the nuclear detonations low in the Earth’s magnetosphere on the surface under them.

    And what nailed it:
    The Argus Effect of the nuclear detonations as it ascended creating areas of high energy electrons around the Earth, destroying the electronics and solar arrays on satellites orbiting near those altitudes.
    At least the Starfish Prime space detonation that killed or damaged several satellites only made a radiation belt at one altitude, and it faded away after several months.
    Orion ships would be making radiation belts at the altitude of each bomblet detonation, and if the launch rate was high those belts would be growing in intensity as new launches added yet more energy to them before the last launch’s effects could fade away.
    At an altitude of less than two Earth Radii with a launch near the equator, the radiation could last for years. Above that, lifetime would range from months to a few weeks.
    The problem could be removed by launching near the poles, as then the field would only last a few minutes.
    Orion might be a workable concept if they could start and end their voyages out at lunar distances or from Antarctica, but that leaves the problem of how to get that amount of mass out to an orbit of that height, or swing launching nuclear pulse powered ships from Antarctica – where nuclear weapons are banned – with the UN.

  • John Nowak

    Looks like a fantastic book; I’m looking forward to buying it.

  • Pat Flannery

    It’s about as close as the world ever came to a spacecraft that had real “Golden Age” sci-fi literature type performance.
    As one of the people who worked on the project later said: “We were struggling to send three people to the Moon – this would have allowed us to send a bowling alley to Neptune.”
    At least one idea for the “Discovery” from the movie “2001” was going to use the Orion-type nuclear pulse drive, but Kubrick thought it would remind people of “Dr. Strangelove” too much.
    In retrospect, that’s a pity; not only would the drive look spectacular in operation, but it would have brought the concept to far wider public attention.

  • djolds1

    IMO, someone could piece together the design of the Draka Gen 3 “Great Khan” class cruiser in “Stone Dogs” if sufficiently anal-retentive (which I am). Basically an armored Sub-Daedalus/bulked-up Mini-Mag Orion. Laser-compressed plutonium pellets, several hundred thousand pellets totaling several tonnes of plutonium (total quantities given in the novel), armored remass tank surrounding an internal hab core (see Atomic Rockets for probable armor & anti-radiation compositions), two external hanger bays (probably recessed in or mounted on the remass tank), forward armored mass shield ala a militarized Daedalus, remass sprayers on the thrust plate, magnetic thrust plate (I think, would need to double check), CIWS Gatling guns, missile turrets, parasite bomb-pumped x-ray lasers ala Footfall’s “Michael,” 15000 tonnes total mass.

    And don’t forget Friedwardt Winterberg’s Orions:

  • admin

    > don’t forget Friedwardt Winterberg’s Orions:

    While the work will certainly be discussed in the book, there’s nothing on vehicle design… and thus nothign to draw.

    Gotta put “Mini Mag orion” in the list as welll…

  • JP

    Any drawings of the “City ships”? That would make a cool FP model

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