Friday, August 27, 2010

The Enzmann Starship Family

I just saw Scott Lowther's post on his forthcoming diagrams of the Enzmann Starship.  A quick search yielded several hits, including a site dedicated to the nuclear pulse starships proposed by Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann.This site provides a variety of info, including drawings for several variants.  I also took note that sport rocketry's own G. Harry Stine wrote and article on Enzmann's work for the October 1973 issue of Analog magazine.  Here is the excerpt presented on that site:
Excerpt from Analog, October 1973, page 14 - 15, Written by G. Harry Stine

A starship will be big. As we can conceive of it today with existing technology or with technology that is within our grasp, a starship might look like this, according to Dr. Robert D. Enzmann. The modular concept would be used throughout so that a damaged module could be “unplugged” from the starship of modules could be “plugged into” other starships. The basic unit is a life module 300 feet in diameter and 300 feet long. Three of them are coupled end to end. At the aft end of that starship are engineering modules and 12 to 24 Orion-type thermonuclear pulse propulsion units. The propellant for the Orions is stored in a “snowball” of frozen deuterium 1000 feet in diameter. One o f the “primitive” Saturn-V vehicles is shown for comparison. Two Empire State Buildings are atop one another would be just a little taller than the starship is long. The starship will be assembled in orbit!
I have little interest in the feasibility, or lack thereof, of this concept.  However, I am intrigued about the scale that people like Dr. Enzmann thought on.  In its most basic form, the Project Orion nuclear pulse propusion concept was radical and fraught with engineering hurdles. (see all my project Orion posts here)  And, here was a guy who wanted to cluster the things!  And it was modular and would employ on-orbit assembly.  How cool is that?