In the spring of 1967, an MIT professor noted that the asteroid 1566 Icarus would pass about 4 million miles from earth the coming June. He decided to use this event to get his class to do some work. He challenged the young minds in his care to come up with a plan to destroy Icarus should it head straight for our planet. This is their story.
Continue reading Save The Planet With Rockets And Nukes!
The Starfish Prime high-altitude nuclear test explosion on July 9, 1962.
On July 9, 1962 the US set off one of the largest nuclear bombs in low earth orbit ever. Part of it was experimental, but part of it was meant to inject nuclear radiation into the Van Allen radiation belts that encompass the Earth. The US was thinking that if the radiation level in the Van Allen belts could be raised then Soviet ICBMs that travel through the Van Allen belts would be fried and not destroy us.
The nuclear explosion was huge, visible as far away as Tonga and causing a red aurora over much of the South Pacific. The lasting effects of the radiation in the Van Allen belts was also a concern for NASA several years later.
Continue reading Starfish Prime: Apollo’s Other Nuclear Concern
One of the things I wanted for Christmas was a clear path for a return of the US manned space program. I’m still waiting. Then I read about Project Orion and thought that elements of it could be used to get our astronauts flying on US-made rockets again.
Continue reading Nuclear Bombed Propulsion
Let me begin by saying that the Wild West era of space exploration is an endless source of tech-geek pron, as you, dear readers, already know. engineerd’s™ Buran post yesterday tickled that part of my brainstem that demands to surf Wikipedia articles concerning space tech for several hours, and I am helpless to do anything but obey. And look what I found – the SNAP-10A (Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power), an orbital nuclear reactor! And it ain’t no radioisotope decay thermoelectric unit, neither – this is the real fission-filled deal.
Continue reading Oh SNAP-10A! Nuclear Space Odyssey FTW