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Monday, May 9, 2011

Project Orion series update

It's been nearly a month since my last post on Project Orion (DARPA's proposed "hundred year starship"), so I want to do a quick recap and an explanation of where the series is going.

So, to recap:

We started with the premise that the ultimate survival of the human species requires that humans establish permanent settlements beyond earth's atmosphere.

We explored different possible locations for human settlement within the solar system. Some or all of these will certainly be colonized, but none of them are especially habitable by humans and other terrestrial life.

We explored the nearest star systems, and determined that the Alpha Centauri system is by far the best candidate for having an earth-sized planet with liquid water on the surface.

We explored existing propulsion systems for reaching Alpha Centauri, and found that only one currently existing method could reach Alpha Centauri within a single human lifetime. That method is nuclear pulse propulsion, which is a polite way of saying lighting off a bunch of atomic bombs behind a space craft and blasting it into the next solar system. Intact.

We learned that the US government has had the plans and technology to build a vessel of this type since 1957. Really. It was called Project Orion. It was then canceled due to the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963. The Cold War is over, and now DARPA and NASA are looking at it again. But I'm not sure that governmental agencies or corporations have the attention span for a project of this magnitude. This may be something that interested individuals need to start collaborating on independently of governments.

The next parts of the series will explore what life would be like, both on Orion for 88 years and also beginning settlement and terraformation of an earthlike world in the Alpha Centauri system.

I've had some requests to eventually turn this series into a book. I will probably at least consolidate it into an ebook and make that available here. In the mean time, I'm going to go back through the series and tag the posts as "Project Orion" and "Outmigration" to make then easier to find.

Ad astra!


  1. Thank you for adding the tags (or "labels", I guess, with blogspot?). Do you plan to do that with all of the different categories? I was looking back through your blog the other day, and it really is more like three or four different blogs running simultaneously.

    You should really consider running a religion and politics thread as well. You seem to avoid that, but the few posts you've made on those things have been very thought provoking.

  2. Yes, I will at some point go back through and put category labels on the posts. I haven't decided yet on what all of the categories will be, but I'll come up with something.

    Honestly, I'd prefer to stay as far away from both religion and politics as possible with this blog, because the very last thing this world needs is another forum for a flame-war.