Latest By

Artificial Intelligence
Data Storage
Input Devices
Living Space
Space Tech
Virtual Person

"I've come across more and more people who've actually tried reading science fiction and can't make it make sense."
- Samuel R. Delany

Michael (Orion Ship)  
  A spacecraft using nuclear bombs for propulsion.  

The Earth is attacked from space; all military forces and spaceports are destroyed. How can humanity get back into space with what they have, and destroy the invaders?

The screens hadn't changed in several minutes. One, from a camera on the dome wall, showed Michael in full. Two great towers stood on the curve of the hemispherical shell, with cannon showing beneath the lip, aimed inward. Four smaller towers flanked them. A brick-shaped structure rose above them. The Brick was much less massive than the Shell, but its sides were covered with spacecraft: tiny gunships, and four Shuttles with tanks but no boosters. The Brick's massive roof ran beyond the flanks to shield the Shuttles and gunships.
From Footfall, by Larry Niven (w/J. Pournelle).
Published by Ballantine in 1985
Additional resources -

There was a real Project Orion; it originated at General Atomics in San Diego. Physicist Theodore Taylor and others examined the feasibility of a nuclear-pulse rocket powered by nuclear fission. The original idea was put forward by Stanislaw Ulam and Cornelius Everett in 1955. Bombs set off on one side of a pusher plate with some solid propellant material would push on the plate, moving the craft forward.

Aldo Spadoni of Aerospace Imagnineering has created detailed technical drawings of Michael, working with Larry Niven.

(Michael [Drawing by Aldo Spadoni])

Read more about the real Orion Project.

Here's another example of the same idea, the Atomic Pulse Rocket. I believe the cool picture is part of an ad campaign for American Bosch Arma (a defense contractor) in 1958-59.

(Atomic Pulse Rocket [American Bosch Arma])

Weighing in at about 75,000 tons, and roughly the size of the Empire State Building, this behemoth would leave the atmosphere under the influence of about a thousand atomic blasts.

Each atom bomb is fired from a low-velocity gun into a heavy steel rocket engine at the rate of one per second. Steam and vaporized steel from the combustion chamber maintain thrust. Living quarters are housed in the wheel-like cabin, which can of course be spun for artificial gravity.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 3 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Footfall
  More Ideas and Technology by Larry Niven (w/J. Pournelle)
  Tech news articles related to Footfall
  Tech news articles related to works by Larry Niven (w/J. Pournelle)

Articles related to Spacecraft
Laser-Powered Spacecraft To Explore The Solar System
SKYLON Space Plane Gets Boost
Europe's Cheops To Look For Habitable Planets
SpaceX Dragon First Private Craft To Dock With ISS

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.





Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.





More News

Otto Self-Driving Truck Kit Delivers Budweiser Beer
'Trucks gulped packages and scurried like beetles...'

Airnest Drone Flight Logging Tool
'He reached to unsnap the cartograph from his belt.'

Untethered Drone Gets Wireless Power
'We'll use my 'broomstick'.'

ESA Plans Akon Projectile To Europa ala Jules Verne
'... might [it] not be possible to project a shot up to the moon?'

Transparent OLED TV By Panasonic
It's the look of things to come.

Shape-Memory Metal Transforms Millions Of Times
'Annealed in any shape for a time, and codified, the structure of that shape is retained down to the molecules.'

Advertising Drones Hover Over Traffic In Mexico
'Blurbflies are allowd to travel the streets, buzzing their adverts alive and direct...'

How Can Amazon Patent A Voice-Controlled Drone?
''Tight mid-shot...' he told it.'

'North Sense' Wearable Piercing From Cyborg Nest
'The fingers opened from the many-scaled stellarimeter grafted onto his palm.'

proCover Smart Sock Prosthetic Limb Enhancement
'Series of chemelectric afferent nerve-analogues, which permitted it to gauge to an ounce...'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise | - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.