Animated Rendering of Space Battles With Nuclear Orion Spaceships

Animations of nuclear battleship Orions fighting in space. It was created by Rhysy who has made some of the best Project Orion related animations.

In George Dyson’s book, he mentioned an Orion battleship model that was shown to President Kennedy. President Kennedy chose not to develop the project. Kennedy made this choice because he did not want the arms race to go that extreme. This was not a cancellation based upon technical problems.

Russia is now building superweapon concepts that were conceived in the 1960s that were never built.

A technically feasible superweapon is the Project Orion Nuclear Battleships.

Russia’s President Putin seems to making different choices in regards to using nuclear weapons into feasible superweapons.

This video shows where this ends up with fleets of nuclear Orion Battleships fighting in our solar system.

Rhysy says that he could have made this video far better and it was not finished. He wanted to add voice-overs and make other improvements. Go to this link to see Rhysy blog post discussing the video and a full index of the scenes in it. If there is enough financial maybe Rhysy could make improved visions of what Russia could develop in its desperate effort to use nuclear superweapons to stay relevant.

There have been analysis made of what are the technical issues for reviving a Project Orion. Costs of a nuclear project Orion program could end up being less than the Apollo program.

The Russians could choose quick and dirty options to keep costs low. They could give up efficiency and optimizations to just use the steel forging capabilities that have for submarines and nuclear reactors and just minimally adapt the nuclear bombs that they have. They could just take a thousand or two thousand weapons from their stockpile and create the weapon for perhaps ten to twenty billion.

Written by Brian Wang.

56 thoughts on “Animated Rendering of Space Battles With Nuclear Orion Spaceships”

  1. So it was. I’d forgotten that, so time for a re-read, which is a most happy thought. The firing mechanism goes : “WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM quiet” One of the crew describes it as “God was knocking, and He wanted in bad.”

  2. Mmm… probably a bit better than lead because cheap gold should have more applications.

    • Non toxic
    • Very good conductor of both heat and electricity
    • Pretty
    • Extremely malleable
    • Easy to use for stuff like electroplating

    But your overall point is right. If we were coating steel cans with gold instead of tin because it was cheap, safe and non-rusting, then it wouldn’t be a world with high gold prices.

    The minerals in the asteroid belt are only worth quadrillions if the human economy grows enough to use them all. (I was going to say Earth’s economy, but that would no longer be accurate.)

  3. “This was literally a ship that could take off from Nevada (or New York, LA, where ever you don’t like too much)”

    Like DC?

  4. As supply goes up, prices go down because there is no scarcity. So the stuff in the asteroid belt isn’t worth quadrillions.

    Put another way if gold was as common on Earth as Lead then Gold would have a similar cost to Lead.

  5. You’d want to be sure it is over a remote part of the Pacific or Arctic Ocean before lighting it up…

    Part of the cost of instant infrastructure.

  6. EMP would still be a HUGE problem if you’re popping off nukes in the upper atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong – I would love to see the U.S. Space force manning a few nuclear pulse powered battleships. Just getting them to space is a bit tricky.

    Building and launching from the moon would be great, but would require a lot of lunar development.

  7. There are so many wars on Earth right now. I dont think space will be any different. At least after it gets relativly cheap and acessible so its actually economically viable to lose few ships for some resource.

    Also terrorist in space and all the religion stuff. Cant wait

    You think humans will suddenly change because now they can tour whole solar system in few months? Highly doubt it

    Fanatics, facists, dictators or just greedy bastards will need armed ships that’s obvious

  8. It has been proposed to make the pusher plate
    of uranium for interstellar, “generation” ships
    so that on arriving on an extrasolar planet, colonists may use it as nuclear fuel.

  9. I dont think that it works like that. The pusher plate would be covered with graphite to minimize
    ablation and overheating. It would cool down
    between detonations. The reaction mass is added to the charge. For a 500 m diameter
    pusher plate “megaship” using H-bombs,
    the charges would mass like a Navy frigate.

  10. That’s what I’m saying.
    NSWR is a pure fission design. All the energy comes from uranium or plutonium
    Super large scale Thermonuclear Orion is a fission-fusion design, much more of the energy comes from fusion of cheap hydrogen.

    And I’ll agree that the claims for the NSWR are just as good as the orion, with many advantages especially as you scale down. But Orion uses a lot of proven tech. Has the NSWR ever got beyond a couple of speculative papers?

  11. It’s like comparing a sailing ship to an outboard motor. Sailing misses out on almost all the energy available in the wind. Even the biggest sails won’t collect 1% of 1% of 1% of the wind available on the ocean.

    But it doesn’t matter because that output is so vast, and so cheap that collecting a tiny sliver of it still gives us enough power to cross oceans.

    Meanwhile an outboard motor needs a steady supply of expensive fuel. Sure we can collect much of the energy produced, so that is more “efficient”, but in terms of crossing a long distance you’ll find the sails are a more elegant solution, in my eyes.

    Not to say that outboard motors are not superior to sails in many situations, but that is largely due to reliable responsiveness and being independent of travel direction, not the efficiency of energy capture.

    The energy capture efficiency also skips over the big advantage that the large (and I mean LARGE) Orion designs can use Hydrogen bombs. Where most of the energy is coming from fusion of cheap hydrogen, not fission of expensive (relative to hydrogen or deuterium) fissile materials.

    Lastly, this is comparing sails and outboard motors in the 19th century. One tech has already been developed a fair bit while the other is still purely theoretical.

  12. Yes, the tensile structure Orion is even better than the original on paper. The difference being the original was ready* to build using 1960 shipyard tech, while Medusa still needs some work.

    *Ready to build is a relative term. Maybe about as ready to build as the Apollo project was when JFK made his moon speech. Maybe as ready as the Space shuttle was at that point.

  13. Know anyone currently with a working plasma drive that can drive a 10,000,000ton ship into orbit and then anywhere it wants to go into our solar system?

    No didn’t think so. I know where we can get a LOT of material for bombs and a lot of steel.

  14. The effect is purely kinetic, right? So how much force would be exerted over square meter of pusher plate from a charge would depend on the mass and the velocity of the debris. And part of this energy will be lost to heat. So how much plasma debris would be generated in purely fission charge in vacuum? 0.02Kt yield device mass is 23kg. They were planning to use 0.03Kt devices in the orbital Orion, but blasting 0.03Kt device at sea-level gives you plenty of shock wave . In vacuum, not so much.
    And forget about flying in tight formation too. The radiation would melt the crew of the neighboring ships unless the shielding is really heavy.
    What probably could work is turning an asteroid into a spacecraft and propelling it by means of nuclear explosions, eroding it’s surface in the process of course.

  15. Yes, but detonating bombs in the atmosphere is not approved by Greenpeace, so it is better to start from LEO. Or from Mars’ surface.
    This is Mars’ Destiny. The Medusa design is even better, since it doesn’t require a huge diameter pusher plate. What is Medusa? We live in the age of Google and Wikipedia.

  16. Rubbish. You can get a large fraction of the bomb’s energy with the pusher plate, while with tokamak it
    is difficult to reach breakeven.

  17. Btw, I still don’t get how enough plasma debris to hit the pusher plate would be generated in vacuum. Pulsed charges are supposed to have some working body/liquid besides fission components?

  18. It looks silly, but it works. Like a fusion bomb works, while tokamak
    doesnt. If you have the mind of a bear, dont try to make a steam engine.

  19. The amount of resources available in the asteroid belt or even the Moon and NEOs so massively outweighs our current use that there would be no need to fight over them. It would be far easier to pick another NEO or main belt asteroid than to go to war over it.

  20. If this is correct then we should definitely do it. It may cost us some satellites, but that can be overcome with planning and reimbursement. Once the ship is in space we could just launch new satellites by kicking them out the door.

  21. This was literally a ship that could take off from Nevada (or New York, LA, where ever you don’t like too much)

    In the original conception. Rhys showed a solution in one of his early animations. Ring the ship with SRBs and lift it high enough to where the air is really thin and tilt it over before you light it off. That way most of the radiation goes somewhere else and there isn’t much to irradiate. I once ran the numbers through a rocketry calculator and the idea isn’t totally whacked out.

    At the time I was making the argument that we could put in place with a single launch an Earth space station, a lunar space station, a Moon base and nuclear thermal rockets to travel between the three. And maybe a handful of modular nuclear reactors that have been safed for electric power for the future. Sure, there would have been an increase in background radiation, but not that much, and any satellites close enough that weren’t hardened would have been damaged, but it would open the Solar System…

  22. It is hard to control thrust this way. And it looks silly, like throwing grenades behind yourself and riding a shock wave. No fine control over where you land. Elegant solution would be turning matter into plasma and accelerate it away from the ship.

  23. Yes, the orion design scales very well. The bigger you go the MORE efficient it gets.

    For one thing, a 0.1 kiloTonnne nuclear bomb might use a good sized fraction of the total mass of a 10 Megatonne bomb. You scale from say a 10 kg for 100 tonnes of TNT to 100 kg for 10 MT. So that’s 50 times the mass for 100 000 times the energy.

  24. If you look at the projected ISP numbers, nuclear thermal propulsion is only a tiny fraction as good as thermonuclear pulse drives.

    Nuclear Thermal achieved experimental ISPs of maybe 900, and they were aiming at the 1100 to 1500 numbers with various theoretical designs.

    Meanwhile the orion drive Isp could theoretically be as high as 10,000 to one million seconds. Combined with a thrust high enough to launch from Earth.

    This was literally a ship that could take off from Nevada (or New York, LA, where ever you don’t like too much) and keep accelerating to maybe 2% of the speed of light. Pure science fiction compared to anything else we’ve got any chance of making right now.

  25. If there is any chance of an advanced spaceship being hidden in Area 51, it would be a Orion drive 10 000 tonner assembled by Americans in the 1960s, then mothballed in case an actual global-killer-asteroid turns up, or equivalent.

  26. People laugh nowadays, no doubt conditioned by sci/fi and fantasy to consider this potential outcome as nothing else than a nerd teenager dream, but if humans move to earn money and live in space any time soon, some methods for imposing sovereignty and settling disputes in less than amicable terms will be needed.

    Mostly for display and baring some teeth. I can’t imagine a legit interplanetary war ending in anything else than a nuclear war here on Earth, and then it would be game over.

    But as the logic of nations dictates: diplomacy is a form of war with other means. Having some means to backup diplomatic niceties is just the next step in escalation.

  27. If Elon gets his million person mars colony, they might actually need space battle ship… to fighting over which country gets to control the 10 quadrillion dollar asteroid mining operations in the kuper belt… umm..

  28. Those lasers are going to be able to reach out and do their thing at a range that would also let them take down all the missiles while barely diverting energy from the primary target.


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