Why not turn the mind breaking energy of nuclear bombs to making the kind of absurdly huge spaceships Galactic Empires favour a reality?
|This kind of size. Although less pointy. Image courtesy of ComicVine|
In the 1950's a bunch of the engineers, who worked on American nukes, developed project Orion. Orion was a plan for .... frankly, quite insanely huge.... spaceships. Spaceships propelled by, essentially, throwing nukes out the back one at a time and setting them off.
|Ship diameter||17–20 m||40 m||400 m|
|Ship mass||300 t||1000–2000 t||8,000,000 t|
|Number of bombs||540||1080||1080|
|Individual bomb mass||0.22 t||0.37–0.75 t||3000 t|
Above: A table I've shamelessly cribbed from wikipedia, showing the sizes of three different classes of Orion space ship. Note the number of zeros - that's not a typo. You could carry a small town into space with one of these things.
And, as far as we can tell, it probably would have worked. Two things closed the project down: The nuclear test ban treaty, and one important piece of technology never happening - a fallout free nuke. Without that even starting these bad boys up in orbit would have increased cancers worldwide.
There're still people interested in the general idea today - as I said, it's very possible it could have been made to work. The original engineers even built a miniature Orion that used high explosive instead of nukes:
For bit more detail, here's the son of one of the engineers that worked on it:
|Above: An artists impression of the inside of an O'Neill colony.|
|Above: An artists impression of an Asteroid city, by JustV23|
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