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This is a model of the Project Orion spacecraft powered by successive explosions of hydrogen atomic bombs. The nuclear explosion pulse concept was conceived by Stanislaw M. Ulam. The crew compartment was to be well shielded from the blast and radiation. Shocks were absorbed through water-cooled springs behind the pusher plate.
In 1958, the Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) granted a study of the concept to the General Dynamics Corporation. However, after seven years of work, Orion was canceled in 1964 mainly because of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963, which outlawed nuclear testing in the atmosphere. This object was donated to the Smithsonian in 1979 by the General Dynamics Corp.
This object is on display in the Rockets & Missiles at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA
Country of Origin
United States of America
MODELS-Crewed Spacecraft & Parts
General Atomics Division, General Dynamics Corporation
Overall: 1ft 10in. x 1ft 7 1/4in. x 8in. x 4in., 1.3lb. (55.88 x 48.9 x 20.32 x 10.16cm, 0.6kg) Materials
Mainly wood; aluminum base at end of top section of model; brass support rod in this section, with brass screws; brass rod in second or middle section, and six brass rods protruding from this section; last section, wood; support, wood, with felt underneath. Inventory Number
Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Air and Space Museum
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply