Something I’ve long noticed is that when someone in the aerospace world – as opposed to science fiction (author or fanboy) – envisions a truly large spacecraft, it’s almost always powered by some form of nuclear pulse propulsion. Whether it’s driven by dirty A-bombs, cleaner H-bombs, really clean pure fusion devices or far-futuristic anti-matter initiated fusion detonations, the fact seems to be that discrete detonations of nuclear pulse units seems to be the way to go. In contrast, theoretically “better” propulsion systems like steady-state fusion or fusion-free antimatter reactions tend to have fewer designs for really large vehicles. A few designs like various laser/maser sails and the”Valkyrie”-type starship are non-nuke pulse designs, but they seem to be the exception.
In support of my “Nuclear Pulse Propulsion” book, I’m working on a whole bunch of layout drawings. They are all being sized to fit on standard C-size sheets; while the book almost certainly won’t be anywhere near that big (your average road atlas ain’t that big), I want them standardized anyway. Each design has its own sheet, at a scale that allows the design to be shown well. But I also have some scale comparison sheets with multiple designs shown side by side.
Tonight I decided to take some of the representative larger vehicles and put them all to scale on one sheet. As will be seen, some people dream *big.*
First… the smallest practical orion, the 10-meter design, next to a Space Shuttle. Even being the smallest design, it’s still really big compared to the usual stuff we’ve bothered to send into space. The C-size drawing for this vehicle is 1/100 scale:
Next, the 4,000 ton “battleship” design. The C-size drawing for this is at 1/250 scale:
From here, the next step is pretty big. The 4,000 ton Orion is the largest design available to me where detailed engineering design work was known to be carried out. The designs that follow tend to be notional… some of them the vague handwavings of aerospace professionals, others carried out at least at the mathematical scale.
Next is the (Martin Co.) Dandrige Cole “Aldebaran” design for a single stage to orbit cargo lifter. Given a poorly described propulsion system that seems to have consisted of an airbreathing nuclear internal-pulse engine, it was vastly larger than the battleship. The C-size drawing is 1/1200 scale.
The next is another Cole design, basically a small free-roaming space colony. The landing gear is to allow it to touch down on asteroids and small moons and such, presumably for exploration and mining operations. The drawing is 1/1500 scale.
Coming soon: Part 2, where Our Hero (that’s me) describes the vehicles that are measured in kilometers. The scales for the C-size drawings for the vehicles to come start at 1/2400 scale and wander on up to 1/600,000 scale. With pulse unit yields measured in “did I read that right? Holy Crap!” units.