Space Engineering

2 recent comments. Last made over 5 years ago.

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Thomas Recane Thomas Recane | over 5 years ago
Why not project orion

While reading this book I was continually puzzled as to why the author did not use the concepts developed by "Project Orion".  This was a government study involving Freeman Dyson.  It proposed to use atomic bombs to propel gigantic ships into space.  Imagine a ship 40m in diameter powered by .14kt bombs and capable of lifting 1600 tons.  Full description here:

Insane?  Yes under normal circumstances, but we are talking about the end of the world right?  Who cares if the atmosphere was polluted with fallout.  Couldn't a crash program build at least dozens of these ships and save many thousands instead of 1500?  1600 tons of lift means they could put structures into orbit that would dwarf ISS.  What is especially puzzling is the fact that Stephenson mentions ships of this kind in his book Anathem!

Maybe 2 years wasn't enough time?  No, the original research was done in the '60s and they were ready to start prototyping when it was canceled.

Great book though.

Tom Tom | over 5 years ago

Things that make you go "hmmmm"...

I actually wondered the same thing. When they first started talking about going after the comet and mentioned nuclear propulsion, THIS is what I thought they meant - not the glorified steam engine (brilliant, btw) that Neal introduced.

This is a total cop-out answer, but my guess would be risk.  With two years to go I bet you they just invested everything in the tried and true launch methods hoping to get as much stuff aloft as possible. Adding to that that we basically are led to believe most of the people on Earth were just going through the motions with all of this and never believed it would work.  Hence they're not going after the comet in the first place...

I'm with you, great book.  You can't go this far out into space (Ha) without leaving some plot holes open, but I think he sure tried to close a bunch.  I wanted more, but the book would have had to be a trilogy to accomodate it! :)

hayduke hayduke | over 5 years ago

i'm fairly inexperienced with space engineering, but was wondering about the 'LightSail' recently deployed.  what happens to it in the long run?  should there be some sort of disintegration plan built in, to prevent further space junk? 

Mike Scott Mike Scott | over 5 years ago

The light sail is in a low orbit and its size means there's a lot of atmospheric drag. It will be re-entering and burning up in the atmosphere on Sunday (plus or minus a day or so), so there will be no junk left in orbit.