Another difficulty is the exploration equipment itself. The crew would need equipment to explore planets with, and to survive on planetary surfaces with. This would also require a significant and expensive program of development. Again, the Orion's carrying capacity allows a lot of this equipment to be transported, but it does not reduce the cost of the equipment itself totriviality. The equipment must still be taken down to planetary surfaces by lander vehicles, and must still contain some fairly advanced scientific instrumentation and survival equipment. Regardless of how much lift capacity is available, the solar system cannot be explored with compasses and binoculars. This would all require significant time and money outside of the costs for developing the propulsion system. Whatever you put in the ship, if it was build in the early days of space exploration it would require lots of research and development to be of much use.
A manned nuclear rocket costs tens of billions and takes decades
Such a huge nuclear-powered manned ship would certainly take tens of billions of dollars to develop, and it is utterly ridiculous to say that there is any chance that NASA could develop a manned Mars ship (nuclear-powered or not) quickly enough to launch it within a decade.
Plan necessitates testing facilities – costs billions
Urfer and LaForge 5 (Bonnie – anti-nuclear activist and John – writer @ NukeWatch, Summer 2005, www.nukewatchinfo.org/Quarterly/20052summer/20052page5.pdf) JPG
Prometheus’s production plan nowincludesyet-to-be- built facilities for testing nuclear reactors. The website Space.com reports that the plan requires a giant chamber capable of mimicking the vacuum of outer space. Prometheus could cost $2 billion over the next five years — on top of the $1 billion Nuclear Systems Initiative NASA received in 2002. NASA has even included in its budget the cost of dealing with anti-nuclear campaigns. Orion is unproven – the only test used chemical propulsion at an extremely small scale
David 5 (Leonard, senior space writer @ space.com, Ad Astra Vol 17, No 2, Summer 05, http://www.nss.org/adastra/volume17/david.html) JPG
The quest for harnessing nuclear energy to carry out deep-diving assaults into space has a long history. In the 1950s into the 1960s, classified work was conducted to study a pulsed nuclear fission propulsion system. (Some of it remains classified today.) Tagged Project Orion, the idea was to expel nuclear bombs from the back end of a large passenger-carrying space vehicle. Each specially shaped bomb blast would kick against a shock absorber-like system that kept the crew safe while pushing the spacecraft forward. Those working on Orion wrestled with many engineering issues. A scale model of the Orion propulsion idea even flewsuccessfully. Using chemical explosives, the mini test model flew for 23 seconds, to nearly 200 feet from a makeshift launch area in the Point Loma area of San Diego, California. Nevertheless, the test shot was a far cry from a 40,000-ton, crew-carrying spaceship propelled by nuclear bombs screaming across interplanetary distances, as well as setting the stage for eventual stellar jaunts. Orion's promising future was abandoned due to issues of public safety, as well as the prospect of fallout resulting from a ground-launched spaceship. An international nuclear weapon test ban on detonating such bombs in space also put an end to Orion.
Costs would be enormous – R&D, construction, fuel, payload Montgomerie 3 (Ian, professional alternate historian, Dec 31, [www.alternatehistory.com/gateway/essays/OrionProblems.html#Environmental] AD: 7-6-11, jam)
Of course, there are two factors worthy of note. First, that the Saturn V was quite expensive as chemical rockets go. Someone willing to develop something as big and dirty as an Orion could put that sort of effort into developing chemical rockets that, while requiring lots of risk, investment, and technological development could put payloads into orbit for many times less money than Saturn Vs. The Orion would also cost more than just its fuel, from a standpoint of lifting stuff into orbit. Since the ship cannot land, it is "expendable" in the context of a launch vehicle, andin general would have associated costs much more significant than just its fuel. It should be noted that these concerns apply to an even greater extent if you don't launch the Orion from the surface. Their big cost advantage would be as a launch system with an unusually low cost per unit of mass lifted to orbit. If you remove that, then Orion just becomes an interplanetary vehicle that is quite speedy but does not scale down well at all. While chemical rockets are still the only main alternatives for launching from Earth, because of their high thrust, there are plenty of non-chemical alternatives to Orion for interstellar flight. Ion drives for example, which as of now have been successfully tested in interplanetary space, are more fuel efficient than all but the largest Orions. An Orion interplanetary vehicle would inevitably cost a lot because it has to be fairly large, and would have to be launched by chemical rockets. The chemical launch phase would cost over a billion dollars (1960 dollars) even for the most modest space-launched Orion. It would have cost several billion dollars to launch the larger thousand-ton design. The ship itself wouldn't be all that cheap either, in absolute terms. Orion advocates are quick to claim that it could be built like a battleship, but that doesn't mean exactly what the average person might think. Battleships were, by the middle of the twentieth century, a highly refined technology which the world had an extraordinary amount of experience building and using. They were about as well established as a technology could get, they were heavily refined so that the designs were highly effective, and they were produced by industries which had experience in churning out many battleships effectively and for a reasonable cost. Despite all of this, the average battleship took three to four years to build even under the urgency of wartime conditions, and cost quite a bit of money. Structurally speaking, there is an analogy between building an Orion hull and a battleship. Both of them would be heavily reinforced metal structures, very large and designed to take a fair amount of stress. The analogy between Orions and battleships ends there, though. Orion's hull structure would be a fundamentally new design that would require new construction facilities, new techniques, and a cautious approach. An Orion would be filled with advanced technologies and equipment to allow it to travel in space and conduct its mission. This technology would be new, to a significant extent it would be untried, and it would be in general much more expensive and difficult to construct than anything put in a battleship. The Orion design would be anything but the cheap kludge some advocates insist it could be. While it would not have to be weight-optimized like a conventional spaceship, its components would be finely crafted and of the highest reasonable quality. For a project with the high absolute cost of an Orion (which really is a "put all or most of your eggs in one basket" approach to launch capacity), and with all the detrimental side-effects and risks of an Orion, its backers would not be willing to risk cutting too many corners in the construction. In general, I would expect the cost of building a single ground-launched Orion in the suggested range of 20,000 tons loaded weight to be quite high. First, a substantial amount of R&D would be required to produce an actual design, and confidence that the design would in fact work. Beyond the work done up to the point when the project was historically cancelled, this would take several years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars just for the propulsion technologies and hull design. Then you have to actually build and launch the ship, which would probably take as much as a decade (definitely at least five years even at a very rushed pace). Constructionof the ship itself, especially the first ship, would range into the billions of dollars. Plus the fuel, which would easily reach one or two billion. Plus the payload.