There was an article published recently on the BBC’s website called “Will nuclear-powered spaceships take us to the stars?”
The article describes an idea for interplanetary space travel using nuclear bombs.
The bomb detonates behind the spaceship and the shockwave propels the ship forwards.
You can see it in the picture above. The nuke detonation is on the right and the spaceship is shooting away to the left.
The idea was thought up in the 50’s and dubbed Project Orion back then.
Whenever I read space opera books when I was a kid my dad would talk about Project Orion as the only feasible means of really getting between different solar systems.
Space opera books always have some means of getting between solar systems with faster than light travel (FTL).
FTL is accomplished in the books in different ways depending on the books, but all of them have some sort of dimension bending idea behind them.
The simplest one that actually explained it had the spaceship travel through the fourth dimension.
We perceive the world in three dimensions, but what if there was a fourth that we don’t see?
How would a fourth dimension let you travel rapidly through three dimensional space?
It’s easier to understand if you imagine a two dimensional space, like a piece of paper.
The paper has two dots on it.
Normally you’d have to draw a line across the whole paper to connect the dots.
But what if you fold the two dimensional paper through the third dimension to connect the dots?
Now going between the dots takes almost no time at all!
The same principle applies for FTL in some science fiction stories. Space is folded in the fourth dimension to allow faster three dimensional travel.
We may eventually discover dimensional travel like that, but for our best plan for getting to other solar systems is using up a country’s nuclear arsenal to blow a spaceship across the galaxy.
I think that’s pretty cool!