Tag Archives: nuclear

Help re-imagine Project Orion – nuclear space propulsion in the noughties

NASA\'s Project Orion - concept artIf you’re in need of something to bring a bit of excitement to your Tuesday (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), maybe you’d like to get involved with re-thinking the idea of launching space missions using the Project Orion model – in other words, the sixties concept space vehicle propelled by small nuclear explosions. [image courtesy NASA via Wikimedia Commons]

No, that’s a genuine NASA concept. And this is a genuine request; the following email turned up in the Futurismic contact inbox over the weekend from one Peter Queckenstedt:

“My name is Peter, I’m a Canadian designer, currently studying for my master’s in transportation design at the Umea Institute in Sweden.

I’m doing some advance work on my upcoming final degree project, and thought Futurismic might be able to aid me. My plan is to revive the idea of Project Orion, the atomic bomb-propelled ship designed in the 60s. My focus is not so much on the engineering side, but more on the ‘blue-sky’ ideas side. I want to explore what kind of changes 50 years of technology would make to this craft. My main intent is to get people excited about the idea of sending people into space in a serious manner.

If you know of anyone that might be interested in collaborating, sponsoring, or providing inspiration and input please let me know. Engineers, fiction writers, artists, mad scientists, bloggers … I’m open to anything as long as it’s interesting.”

There you have it, folks – if you fancy getting your crowdsource on and thinking about nuclear-powered rockets, now’s your chance! I think the best way to do this would be for you to leave a comment below if you’re interested in helping out, making sure to use a valid email address which I can then forward on to Peter.

But feel free to share ideas at the same time – for example, is Project Orion any more or less reasonable a suggestion now we’ve had five more decades of experience with nuclear power and weapons, not to mention the economic cost of space exploration?

The Independent reports on the rise of British Sea Power

SeaGen has been running in Plymouth since 2003 and is looking to expandAs well as a popular indie band, British Sea Power is rapidly becoming more accepted as a valid alternative to nuclear and fossil fuel energy. Whereas the nuclear proponents in the UK civil service have previously neglected the sector (as London Mayor Ken Livingstone explains to Radiohead’s Thom Yorke in this week’s Observer Magazine), a number of companies in the UK have made great advances in harnessing the power of the oceans despite the lack of enthusiasm at government level.

The water around the British Isles makes it a key resource and as the Independent explains, could account for huge percentages of the electricity demand of the country. With a feasibility study into the Severn Barrage underway and products like SeaGen and Pelamis coming into use, it seems like the tide might be turning in more ways than one. Nuclear energy will undoubtedly be a factor in the UK’s future energy use but with such a huge resource sloshing around our coastlines it would to take advantage of this clean and renewable power source.

[picture by SeaGen]

Nuclear fission “battery” can produce 27MW

Hyperion Power Generation is a company that has claimed to produce self contained, portable nuclear fission reactor that can produce 27 megawatts of power.

The portable nuclear reactor is the size of a hot tub. It’s shaped like a sake cup, filled with a uranium hydride core and surrounded by a hydrogen atmosphere. Encase it in concrete, truck it to a site, bury it underground, hook it up to a steam turbine and, voila, one would generate enough electricity to power a 25,000-home community for at least five years.