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Model, Spacecraft, Orion Nuclear Pulse


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Rockets and Missiles exhibition at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Collection Item Summary:

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.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum


Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Credit Line

Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration


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.


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)

Country of Origin

United States of America


MODELS-Manned Spacecraft & Parts

Inventory Number


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