Models were successfully tested with conventional explosives, but there were concerns about the safety of launching nuclear weapons into space. The Partial Test Ban Treaty, forbidding the detonation of nuclear weapons except those being conducted underground, effectively killed the project.
Orion was possible to build at the time with the then-available technology. It was calculated that it would reach up to a tenth of the speed of light, and built at different sizes, could be used for hopping around the solar system or even an interstellar mission putting it into orbit around a distant star.
Propulsion was to be from inertial confinement fusion , in which nuclear fuel is compressed by a laser until it begins a fusion reaction. Although this is possible with contemporary technology, it would likely mean mining the atmosphere of Jupiter for Helium BIS and the Tau Zero Foundation began a new five-year mission in , Project Icarus , aimed at updating the original study in light of the past 30 years of technological advancements, but taking into account that many of the original experts in the physics and engineering communities had since retired or died.
The two projects are named for their respective characters in Greek mythology: Daedalus the master craftsman who created the Cretan labyrinth where the minotaur was kept, and his son Icarus who attached artificial wings to himself with wax but flew too close to the Sun.
Reaching for the Stars (song)
The suggestion for the new Enterprise programme is explicitly intended to carry humans on board, using the saucer-shaped front section to generate artificial gravity by rotating — although the axis around which it would spin is not ideal. The timescale given is for a first-generation Enterprise to be finished within 20 years.
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