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How small could a pusher-plate spacecraft be built?

  1. Feb 3, 2015 #1
    Hi All,
    Not sure if this is the right section but happy if its moved by mods.

    Back in the 50's Dyson and his team came up with the Orion pusher-plate spacecraft and the figures looked like it would work. Apparently it was shelved due to the nuclear testing treaty. Now in the style typical of the day they thought big so the craft would be like a flying house. What I want to know is given the advances today how small could we build a pusher-plate spacecraft?

    Many thanks for any replies.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 3, 2015 #2

    mfb

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    Everything will be possible, but smaller nukes are less efficient and smaller plates capture a smaller fraction of the explosion, so the concept becomes pointless if the spacecraft is not very large.
     
  4. Feb 15, 2015 #3
    Thanks for your reply.

    Given it would not be earth-launched but only used in the vacuum would this make a difference to the efficiency?
     
  5. Feb 15, 2015 #4

    berkeman

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    Were nuclear-explosion-powered pusher-plate designs ever envisioned for Earth-launch?
     
  6. Feb 16, 2015 #5
    Yup! Dyson, et al, had worked out the maths and physics and thought the couple of lives lost to radiation a fair price to pay for such a craft. The reason it was shelved was due to the signing of the nuclear test-ban treaty. Interestingly, and according to his son, the work now appears to be being reclassified as secret by the US govt?
     
  7. Feb 16, 2015 #6

    mfb

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    Project Orion was planned to be launched from ground.

    Nuclear weapons don't care about pressure outside, so the conclusion is independent of where you use them.
     
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