Re: Project Orion

From: Doug Jones (
Date: Thu Jun 22 2000 - 00:54:40 MDT

Everitt Mickey wrote:
> On Wednesday, June 21, 2000 at 5:09 PM Chuck Kuecker is proported to have
> said:
> <Fallout in space could cause problems for satellites and manned
> <stations unless the trajectory was planned carefully to avoid these areas.
> My understanding is that a low airburst or a ground burst sucks dirt, and
> "stuff" (cows, jackrabbits etc) into it's mushroom cloud therby causing it
> to be radioactive.....which is then merrily strewn about by the prevailing
> winds.....
> An airburst, being up in the air (hence the name) doesn't cause "stuff" to
> be radioactive....hence it's much cleaner
> In space there is no "stuff".....whence the fallout?

The bomb debris itself is *concentrated* fallout- just tiny amounts
deposited onto other satellites would be Bad Stuff. Essentially all
this debris is ionized, and is captured in the earth's magnetic field.
I think most eventually hits the atmosphere and is absorbed near the
poles, but alpha, beta, and positron emitters will all increase the Van
Allen belt loading (see below).

> The piddling alpha,beta and gamma radiation of a typical multimegaton H-bomb
> amount to spitting in the ocean relative to the solar wind.
The prompt gamma & x-rays are very very bad, because they drive
electrons off the surface of all sats in sight... and the instantaneous
currents are very high. It amounts to a very strong local EMP that
fries electronics.

Then the electrons and ions from the bomb cloud increase the activity of
the Van Allen belts by as much as several orders of magnitude. All
these effects scale with the yield, of course, but nukes in near space
are not good for sats.

Doug Jones
Rocket Plumber, XCOR Aerospace

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:14:02 MDT