Friday, February 12, 2010

Cole/Helios internal nuclear pulse propulsion system

I've posted a lot about the Project Orion nuclear, pulse-detonation spaceship. Today, the Unwanted Blog discusses another nuclear pulse propulsion concept, the Cole/Helios.
From 1959 to 1961, Dandridge Cole, a visionary engineer at the Martin Company in Denver, Colorado, produced theoretical studies of vehicles propelled by contained nuclear explosions. In this concept, the atomic device would be detonated within a large spherical chamber; a nozzle would direct the blast in an orderly stream directly aft. The clear advantage of this system was that a vast proportion of the bomb’s energy could be harnessed, whereas the Orion concepts used only ten percent or so of the bomb’s energy.
Scott's post provides a lot of details and he notes that Volume 1, Number 3 of his Aerospace Projects Review provides more info and many more hi-res images.  I borrowed a sampling of the images from his post.  Interesting stuff! The last one would make a cool saucer-like rocket.