USA's "Project Cancelled"

It's basically impossible to assemble an Orion in space because of the size of the pusher plates and reaction springs. There is no way to get that kind of stuff into orbit without a launcher as large and powerful as an Orion. All extant concepts for Orion drive ships have included some form of single-launching, usually using a very large booster stage or sets of solid-rocket boosters. These push the Orion ship onto a suborbital trajectory so it can start using its own pulse drive in the upper atmosphere. These are all in-atmosphere detonations so fallout is very low, and the specialized in-atmosphere pulse units have very small explosive yields and therefore negligible electromagnetic interference.

And it was in fact kind of the whole "point" that created the Orion drive in the first place in getting as much 'spacecraft' into orbit (and beyond) in one launch. The scientist were quite open and honest that building an Orion that you could launch on a normal rocket was going exactly 180 degrees in the wrong direction to use Orion efficiently as they got more efficient bigger they got. Keep in mind they straight up based a lot of the parameters of the concept on the idea of needing to be able to launch a couple of two-ton each barber's chairs into space by a method where that much mass was so far down in the 'margins' as to be ignored. And they based the 'standard' habitation deck section, (which would be spun to provide gravity) on the two-story round cafeteria they all would have lunch at every day.

What was the number? Something like 100 full-up ISS's into orbit in a single launch AS CARGO! When you need vast amounts of material in space as soon as possible Orion is inarguably the way to go ... But that's the problem too as that's also about the ONLY scenario where it shines.

Once you dig deeper as I noted you then need an extensive but more 'conventional' launch system and infrastructure to then support those Orion's and when all is said and done you end up not every needing a whole lot (especially of the early monsters) of those ships unless you have a priority reason to colonize space or another planet RIGHT DAMN NOW. Barring that the Orion drive isn't as effective as other options once you can actually employ those options.

As I pointed out there's still a very viable use scenario for something like GABRIEL, (why is this all in caps? no idea but all the reports have it that way so... :) ) but the motivation and political backing is iffy at best. Beyond that? Well I do love the concept but getting something where it can be rationalized let alone actually built...

Note that no 'Broken Arrow' resulted with a detonation
Correction no "Broken Arrow" every resulted in a NUCLEAR detonation :) Several had the conventional explosives detonate but not in a viable way to initiate a nuclear event.

Didn't a b52 crash cause 5 of 6 failsafes to fail?

Goldsburo, North Carolina in 1961 but keep in mind the bomb was actually deployed almost exactly as it would be for an actual mission. The "one-switch" was literally THE one that HAD to be electrically turned on by the crew during a bombing run to get the damn thing to work. The rest of the fail-safes (key word btw) functioned as designed due to the bomb falling free and the parachute deploying as it would have for an actual mission. Even if you don't believe that Pentagon story that it wasn't a fully 'functional' device, (almost impossible to believe given the doctrine of the time and the mission itself) without that one switch being activated by the proper sequencing by the crew the bomb simply couldn't get a nuclear yield.

The SECOND bomb's fail-safe WAS activated but none of the other systems were activated since it didn't separate properly, (the power and systems cables were torn in half so the switches could not physically engage) the parachute didn't deploy, (the NEXT major switch that has to be physically activated to fully arm the weapon) and it hit the ground which essentially warped the conventional explosive array to a point where even if they HAD gone off the nuclear core couldn't detonate.

Even our worst designed weapons, (and we've had more than one :) ) need a lot to go exactly right to get a nuclear yield. And if you're still worried let me assure you that had things gone 'bad' enough when I was in service one of my JOBS was to put large explosive shape charges on those weapons and sit about 300 yards away and ensure they wrecked them before bugging out. Expendable you say? Hardly as we had to be around to not only 'fix' any that weren't wrecked but we had several other "priority" task that had to be done before we truly bugged out. As a side note that's how I got another raise in my security clearance as even though I wasn't a Nuclear Weapons Technician, (they got to leave a LONG time before us "conventional" folks would :) ) I happened to know how these work and asked some questions. (What can I say, my grade school couldn't afford the 'new' encyclopedia's so we had late 1950s sets and the US at the time was quite 'proud' of our nukes :) )

Yes I forgot that priority rule about asking questions... I was young and stupid I admit :)

No nuke was subjected to a rocket blast...

Actually... (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnston_Atoll#Failures) and several were in fact touching the high explosives that were supposed to start the chain reaction when those conventional explosives detonated. So, no you're point still doesn't stand I'm afraid.

That... would effectively turn a considerable chunk of real estate into a radioactive wasteland... not to mention all the radioactive dust carried who knows where...

Again this is simply hyperbole and patently untrue. The Kiwi-TNT reactor experiment was far more radioactive than a pulse unit would have been (considering it was run up to full power in under a second or about a gigawatt of thermal energy and blew parts all over the place it was safe to approach by un-suited personnel in less than an hour and cleaned up fully in less than a week. A pulse unit after a crash would be mostly only slightly radioactive hunks of metal. Dust? What dust? The pulse unit casing is designed to actually RESIST the power of the nuclear detonation for a couple of microseconds to help direct the blast, how is a "little" thing like a fall from space inside a heavy hull and lots of rather 'clunky' machinery supposed to generate any significant radioactive 'dust'? Firstly the most likely place this would crash is into an ocean because that's called flight planning and second you seem to be thinking of plutonium 'dust' (which again is pretty hard to get from smashing a piece of metal against a hard surface) and the pulse units only had highly enriched uranium in them.

Still not getting where you got this from as the material available is pretty clear.

Bomb grade material really isn't that radioactive.U-235 has a half life of 700 million years. Radon gas in Many people's basement is under 4 days.
Yeah... but it wouldn't be one bomb, would it?

it would be hundreds in total with about 50 to 100 in each "storage and handling" cassette, which themselves were built in essentially a shipyard with heavy walls, (seriously the walls were about a foot thick outside and had a lot of internal bracing all around to support the storage and and handling machinery along with the pulse units) and bracing to with stand multiple G's of acceleration. Then as noted you have the pulse unit casing itself to deal with.

Oh and lets address the one thing that everyone seems to get wrong. What is the most likely method of failure of an Orion drive ship?
First an aside: Well unlike a conventional rocket filled with tons of very volatile liquid chemicals and stored in a light weight pressure vessel, the Orion drive by it's nature has to be built less like a 'rocket' and more like a ship, a 'real' space ship if you will. So by their nature the former will tend to explode or fall apart during a catastrophic event.
Fair enough so far. What about Orion? Think about it for a moment. It is literally riding to orbit on successive nuclear blasts and by design a MAJORITY of the blast is directed at the Orion itself. In other words it is literally built from the ground up to stand up to multiple close proximity nuclear explosions as a common event. It has no major amount of those afore mentioned volatile propellants nor does it have the light weight tanks they are normally contained in.

What's the "main" mode of failure? Oddly enough your main worry is, not the first nuclear pulse unit but the second and subsequent units NOT going off! Because if they don't then you suddenly recall that gravity works and the ground/ocean is a long, long way down there. Result? Drop the battleship Iowa, from 10 miles up and you get a pretty good idea probably. Again literally because the Iowa would have nuclear armed cruise missiles on-board which while smashed flat are not likely to scatter highly radioactive material all over the place or explode.

That's probably THE most difficult thing for anyone NOT interested in space/Orion to understand. You are not talking about a huge but frail Saturn V or even a Nuclear powered vehicle like a NERVA. You are talking about something built (likely) stronger and heavier than a WWII battleship pushed into space by sequential nuclear explosions that is totally unlike anything anyone has ever actually seen.

This is something that carries several multi-ton barbers chairs in dedicated barber shop, which sits inside a habitation deck with walls somewhere around 6 inches of solid steel surrounded by a 'dead-space a couple of feet thick with radiation absorbing material surrounded by ANOTHER 6 inch solid steel outer wall which is stacked among about a dozen similar decks, a cargo hold that can carry enough material for 100 ISS's and about a dozen more 'decks' above it all in descending size with accommodations and capacity for about a thousand 'crew' of passengers, scientist and flight personnel all of which then sits on top several dozen more tons of pulse unit storage and handling magazines, shock absorber systems and other machinery which then "finally" sits on a multi-ton "pusher" plate about 20 feet thick.

The Saturn V, N1, hell the NOVA takes one look and dies of embarrassment...

You know the tyranny of the rocket equation and the mantra "every kilogram matters"? Well the Orion drive doesn't even care, not one bit :)

Randy
 
This is what happen when "team space nerds" hijack a thread. :cool::cool:

Sorry but did WE set up the parameters of the exchange? No we did not... We simply exploited them to, (ok maybe a bit beyond, ok, probably a bit beyond, fine, a LOT beyond, there ya happy? :) ) a ridiculous extent. Hmmm, Ok I concede you may have a point there :)

Randy
 
The fate of the post-war ICCMs makes me a bit chary about assuming that they would always work out, but yeah, that's another good one. The political changes needed to keep budgets less...troublesome are difficult, and the advent of nuclear weapons also makes things tricky, but you could potentially see major advances if the right investments were made.

Kettering Bug of WWI ... Literally the advanced prep team, (led by Hap Arnold) is setting up to board ship for Europe when the war ends and it's all chucked. Maybe a good thing since Kettering himself was 'vastly relieved' by the deployment not going forward. From the looks of things, (again Kettering's words were pretty much how grateful he was that the mixture of automated flight and gas warfare would now never see the light of day...) the actual deployment scheme while it may not have been outright stupid may not have been all that great.

Randy
 
The worst designed Nuclear Weapon, at least by the United States, was probably the Mk 101 Lulu Nuclear Depth Charge.

It lacked several important safety devices; it had no sensors to detect the freefall from an aircraft that would follow from the depth charge's being intentionally dropped. As a result, if an armed Mk 101 bomb accidentally fell off an aircraft, say while it was parked on the deck of a warship, and then it rolled overboard, it would detonate at the pre-set depth.
 
Okay, here's mine:

A-6F: Big mistake by the Navy not to revive the Intruder II after the A-12 fiasco. (not without bias here: I wanted to be an A-6 B/N in my undergrad days, before finding out I couldn't pass a flight physical...)

F-14D: Also a big mistake: Yes, they were maintenance heavy, but the APG-71 radar, integrated with AIM-54C and later, AIM-120 (if funded) meant it was still a capable fleet defender and dogfighter. With China developing "carrier-killer" anti-ship missiles for its H-6 bombers, the aircraft would still be viable in the Fleet Defense mission.

A/FX: Should have been developed instead of F-35 as the replacement for both the A-6 and F-15E.

B-1A: SAC wanted 241 aircraft to finally replace the B-52 in the 1980s. Mr. Peanut (Carter) killed it based on what he saw as the future (what became the B-2), and also because of "I don' t have this fear of Communism many have" (or words to that effect). Even the Soviets told SALT negotiators "You made a mistake in canceling this one." When the Soviets tell you that you made a mistake, that should tell you something.

M-8 Buford: Canceled by the Clinton Administration to pay for the Bosnia Peacekeeping Force. Now the Army's actually considering reviving the program and procuring the vehicle. It's what the 82nd Airborne needed to replace its Sheridans (which needed replacing in the 1970s), and to give light formations some kind of antiarmor firepower besides TOW-armed Humvees.

Now, what should've been canceled?

Zumwalt-class DDGs: Keep the lead unit as a technology demonstrator, and cancel the rest. Use the money for more Burke-class DDGs.

LCS: Cap the program and start designing a follow-on that can actually perform the assigned mission.

RAH-66: not needed in the post-Cold War environment.

M-247 Sergeant York: For reasons mentioned above. Bury the NIH Syndrome in this case and build Gepard turrets under license and install them on M-48 hulls.
 
I wouldn't cancelled the Zumwalts. Instead the lead flight would been as is, then on flight II ships would been Zumwalts hulls with Burke Flight IIIa senor and weapon package. That would be cheaper than starting up Burke construction again.
 
The worst designed Nuclear Weapon, at least by the United States, was probably the Mk 101 Lulu Nuclear Depth Charge.

It lacked several important safety devices; it had no sensors to detect the freefall from an aircraft that would follow from the depth charge's being intentionally dropped. As a result, if an armed Mk 101 bomb accidentally fell off an aircraft, say while it was parked on the deck of a warship, and then it rolled overboard, it would detonate at the pre-set depth.

Well, that would have been......................... embarrassing.
 
Zumwalt-class DDGs: Keep the lead unit as a technology demonstrator, and cancel the rest. Use the money for more Burke-class DDGs.
From what I understand the problem with cancelling the Zumwalt program (especially after building the first one) is that the USN agreed to an utterly absurd clause in the programs contract which stipulated that if the USN cancelled the program after a certain point without paying for and building the first three that the USN would be on the hook for a penalty fee of something like 50 billion dollars.

Not sure on the dollar figure but I remember thinking it was completely and utterly absurd that the Navy agreed to the fee in the first place. Like I understand that building the infrastructure and paying for the research of the program would have cost the builders a good amount (that the builders obviously wouldn't get back if the Zumwalt program was cancelled late) but the amount the USN agreed to sounded utterly absurd.
 
Well, that would have been......................... embarrassing.

That sort of scenario actually happened a few times with the USN during the Cold War. Aircraft that were loaded with nuclear weapons ended up falling overboard during rough weather.

I think the USN lost four or five nukes that way.
 
Has anybody mentioned this one yet?https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_United_States_(CVA-58)

620px-Artist%27s_impression_of_the_US_Navy_aircraft_carrier_USS_United_States_%28CVA-58%29_in_...jpg
 

That one was probably a really good idea in hind sight. From what I understand the design had some major and critical down sides (like the lack of a tower) that would have really really hurt it's usefulness (at least without a pretty thorough and expensive reconstruction) and technological progress would pretty quickly negate their need to operate large four engined strategic nuclear bombers. Within a handful of years the US would develop much smaller nuclear weapons and longer ranged twin engined jet nuclear strike aircraft (Like the A3 and later A5 along with the A6). And within a handful of years from that the USN would develop SSBN's and effective submarine launched ballistic missiles like the Polaris.

The design would have been heavily hampered in terms of the same usage that the earlier carriers (Midway's and Essex class) and later super carriers (Like the conventional Forrestal and Kitty Hawk classes and the later nuclear powered Enterprise and Nimitz classes) were used as or were intended to operate in the event of a WW3.

All together the Navy was probably better served by cancelling the United States class and later going with the super carriers and SSBNs.
 
I will never understand the "no tower" idea...

I think it was because the four engined strategic nuclear bombers designs they were playing with would have been seen as being hampered by the normal tower. By going without a normal tower they thought they could get much greater wingspan in terms of bombers (and hence size, payload, and range) then they would with a tower.

Obviously in hindsight the idea was actually pretty bad.
 
Similarly the Marine Amtrac, did it need to do 25 knots on the water and have like 2,600 horsepower when surely a less mental specification could have delivered an amtrac much better than the AAV7 when it was needed.
IIRC wasn't that when the Marines were, or possibly still are, planning on sitting a fair distance offshore to avoid land-based defences? If you're doing that then you need high speed for the run in otherwise it takes so long as to negate the whole point and completely buggers up your logistics if the turnaround time is too high.


Dumped? The Littoral Combat Ship. A serious challenger to the best forgotten Alaska-class 'large cruiser' for the worst U.S. warship program in the last 120 years. Not survivable (so badly designed that the Navy won't even SHOCK TEST it, they shock test LSD FFS), so poorly armed that the fleet admits that it can't operate, (in its assigned role) without the constant overwatch of the DDG it was supposed to replace in green/brown water environment, no real offensive capabilities, no real defensive capabilities.
The Constellation-class seem to be the smallest you can go for a half-decent capability. It's a shame that the British government, as per usual, buggered up the replacement programme for the Type 23 frigate as the Type 26 might have been a competitor for the FFG(X) contest. With the UK, Canada, and Australia already slated to buy them adding the US as well would have been useful.


Technically of course the Ares V didn't really die, it is just got a fresh coat of paint as the SLS...
Even Ares V was a continuation of the National Launch System (NLS).


The British suffered air attacks in the Falklands which the Rapier SAMs struggled with.
IIRC that had a lot to do with setting them up and logistics issues, even without getting into how good or bad it might have been as a system at the time. Do have to wonder if they might not have been better served by something like Oerlikon's Skyguard with a bunch of GDFs and Sea Sparrows, or the latter two even without.


Anyone remembers "Project Thor", aka "rods from god"? Guess who's apparently thinking about it again...
Well if SpaceX get Starship to work that might bring it closer to the realms of reality.


For a slightly less radioactive cancelled space project the Sea Dragon has to get a mention, if only as an excuse for this video:

[SNIP]​
Yes getting the engines to work might have been incredibly challenging, yes there were few payloads that required that much mass and volume capacity, and yes it would deafen all sea life within a couple of hundred nautical miles, but my God would I like to have seen that built and be in operation. :)
 
Speaking of the Constellation class I still don't get why they didn't go for the 48 cell variant since that would have basically cost roughly only 40 million more per hull(and boosted displacement and crew count by 400 tons and 10 people respectively)and effectively nearly doubled the designs firepower.
 
Even Ares V was a continuation of the National Launch System (NLS).
Not really, except in the sense that it was an in-line somewhat Shuttle-derived vehicle (very little Shuttle-derived, by the end). All of those are going to end up looking somewhat similar, but they were separated by more than a decade in time and had little in common with each other.
 
The Constellation-class seem to be the smallest you can go for a half-decent capability. It's a shame that the British government, as per usual, buggered up the replacement programme for the Type 23 frigate as the Type 26 might have been a competitor for the FFG(X) contest. With the UK, Canada, and Australia already slated to buy them adding the US as well would have been useful.

While I certainly don't disagree that the Type 26/31 programs have been a massive, massive fuck up as per the MOD's usual impeccable procurement standards, the design was finalised before the US DOD started their FFG(X) program, is there a reason why the T26 couldn't be considered? Did they require a ship in the water for a class to be considered?
 

CalBear

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That one was probably a really good idea in hind sight. From what I understand the design had some major and critical down sides (like the lack of a tower) that would have really really hurt it's usefulness (at least without a pretty thorough and expensive reconstruction) and technological progress would pretty quickly negate their need to operate large four engined strategic nuclear bombers. Within a handful of years the US would develop much smaller nuclear weapons and longer ranged twin engined jet nuclear strike aircraft (Like the A3 and later A5 along with the A6). And within a handful of years from that the USN would develop SSBN's and effective submarine launched ballistic missiles like the Polaris.

The design would have been heavily hampered in terms of the same usage that the earlier carriers (Midway's and Essex class) and later super carriers (Like the conventional Forrestal and Kitty Hawk classes and the later nuclear powered Enterprise and Nimitz classes) were used as or were intended to operate in the event of a WW3.

All together the Navy was probably better served by cancelling the United States class and later going with the super carriers and SSBNs.
As soon as you decide to build something that requires another ship that does the same general job to protect it, as in needing a second deck to launch and manage fighters, ASW and ASuW, you have an issue.

The United States was the Navy desperately trying to fit into a world where, for around three years, no one ever imagined that United States would actually have to fight an opponent. The the Soviet program bore fruit which tossed a spanner into the works, and 10 months after that the U.S. discovered, to its horror, that showing up with weapons that were obsolescent in late 1944 didn't make the OPFOR simply faint because they were facing the United States.
 
IIRC wasn't that when the Marines were, or possibly still are, planning on sitting a fair distance offshore to avoid land-based defences? If you're doing that then you need high speed for the run in otherwise it takes so long as to negate the whole point and completely buggers up your logistics if the turnaround time is too high.
Yes, over the horizon doctrine had each landing method over the horizon an hour from the landing zone. The V22 was hundreds of nm away, the LCAC 40-50nm and the amtrac 20-25nm from the LZ. However the USMC dropped this direct assualt opposed landing doctrine which demanded OTH capability in favour of unopposed landings.
 
Not really, except in the sense that it was an in-line somewhat Shuttle-derived vehicle (very little Shuttle-derived, by the end). All of those are going to end up looking somewhat similar, but they were separated by more than a decade in time and had little in common with each other.
You mean to say that the internet lied to me? I am shocked! Outraged!

Well that or I simply misremembered. :)


While I certainly don't disagree that the Type 26/31 programs have been a massive, massive fuck up as per the MOD's usual impeccable procurement standards, the design was finalised before the US DOD started their FFG(X) program, is there a reason why the T26 couldn't be considered? Did they require a ship in the water for a class to be considered?
IIRC one of the requirements for the FFG(X) contest was that the design had to be already in service or at least have already been built, the idea being that after the whole Littoral Combat Ship imbroglio they wanted to minimise any possible risks. Can't say I really blame them to be honest.

If you look at the Type 23 frigates the oldest in service is currently 29 years old and the newest is still 18 years old, and you can expect to add five years or so before the Type 26 starts potentially coming into service. Assuming a reasonable lifespan of 25 years they should really have been starting to replace them in service from around 2016 onwards. I'm also fairly sceptical of the whole Type 31 concept. To my mind better to build more Type 26 ships with a lot of for but not with weapons and systems, longer production runs would hopefully see construction costs reduced and it leaves the option of upgrading them here and there in later years if you find a bit of cash open. That's getting a bit away from the whole US Projects Canceled point though.
 
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