Project Orion – The Atomic Bomb Powered Space Rocket

If I told that there was a plan to launch a spacecraft the size of an ocean liner, that would weigh 130 times more than the Space Shuttle, could travel with unrivalled speed across our Solar System and was powered by riding on a series pulses created by exploding thousands of miniature atomic bombs, one after another, another behind the ship, you would probably say that I’d been reading too many sci-fi books or websites.

However, in the 1950’s and 60’s just such an idea was taken very seriously. ‘Project Orion’ was a classified American project to harness the power of the atom to lift extreme payloads into Earth orbit and beyond.

Sponsors: Symon Hamer, Florian Hesse, Marcus Chiado, Mitchell Payce, Skalgrin, Jørn Karlsen, John Roscoe, Georgi Dobrev.

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This episode’s shirt was the Peacock fan shirt in Yellow by Madcap England and is available from

Presented by Paul Shillito
Written & Researched by Andy Munzer
Additional Material by Paul Shillito
Images and footage: NASA,
General Atomics,
Music by Paul Shillito

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