Disregard the aff’s evidence – their spending estimates are extremely optimistic Montgomerie 3 (Ian, professional alternate historian, Dec 31, [www.alternatehistory.com/gateway/essays/OrionProblems.html#Environmental] AD: 7-6-11, jam)
Another concern is, of course, cost. For any Orion mission, a significant amount of research and development would be required as outlined above. In addition to this, there would be the time and money required to actually build the ships themselves, plus whatever payload they were to carry. Orion advocates (then and now) tended to tout extreme cheapness of the system as the overriding reason to adopt it. Orion would supposedly allow space travel on a budget. First, let us note for historical purposes that the Apollo program is generally reported to have cost in excess of 25 billion 1960 dollars. The main work on the project itself took under a decade, and it put a man on the moon less than twelve years after the US launched its first craft into space. Also note the Orion project's own estimates for its requirements - twelve years, and total funding of about 1.2 billion dollars. Both of these estimates were referred to as extremely optimistic by outside reviewers who examined the project. One of the major things to note about Orion isthe cost of the fuel. The designers at one point estimated that they could get each "pulse unit" for at most 500,000 dollars, and at some point that they could probably be had for less than a tenth of that. They are noteworthy, however, for grossly overestimating the development of nuclear technology in at least one respect, when they assumed that small fusion bombs would be developed that did not require a fission trigger. If we went with the estimate of 500,0001960 dollars, which was probably based at least loosely on how much it actually cost the military to construct fission bombs, the 2000 pulse units of the ground-launched Orion design would cost one billion dollars. Thisalready takes us roughly to theestimated budget limit for the entire project, just for buying the fuel for one craft. It is worth noting that fission bombs really are quite expensive devices, and that there were not much more than 20,000 such devices in the US arsenal at its peak. Launching even a few Orions would require a significant increase in US bomb production (and because off-the-shelf bombs weren't suitable for the Orion mission profile, they'd couldn't just roll off an existing assembly line). This does not, in itself, make Orion tremendously expensive. A few billion dollars for fuel is not that big a deal if you can launch thousands of tons of payload into space. This is mainly intended to illustrate how dramatic the difference was between the cost estimates often quotedfor Orion, and what a plausible minimum cost would actually have been (given our hindsight in regard to technological development). It does mean that Orion wouldn't save as much as some people think, though. A Saturn V rocket, costing several hundred million dollars at the time, could lift roughly 100 tons into orbit (it varied depending on where in orbit you wanted the payload). An Orion that could lift 10,000 tons into orbit would probably pay a minimum of a billion dollars for fuel and other launch-related costs. This is still, however, as much as 50 times less than the cost for the Saturn V.
Orion would be the most expensive space program ever Montgomerie 3 (Ian, professional alternate historian, Dec 31, [www.alternatehistory.com/gateway/essays/OrionProblems.html#Environmental] AD: 7-6-11, jam)
Thepayload is the big thing.Orion has a low cost per unit of mass to orbit, but you can only get that low cost by doing a lot of research and construction. Developing and building the first few Orions would easily match the time and cost requirementsfor the entire Apollo program, and possibly even exceed them. And that's before you've paid for actually doing anything with the ship(s). What if you want to do some interplanetary exploration with them? Well, as mentioned above you are going to be spending many billions of dollars to develop and build additional equipment. You need to navigate the ship, support the crew in space, carry scientific instrumentation, develop and build landers to explore planets with, develop equipment for living on and exploring the surfaces of other planets, and more. In that case you aren't just developing a propulsion system, you're also developing an entire space program to wrap around the propulsion system. That costs a lot of money. Even ignoring the other problems with the Orion technology, actually building (for example) one or more large exploration Orions in the 70s would cost substantially more than has ever been spent on any program of space exploration. The general point is that whatever you are building an Orion for, it's payload is not going to be cheap in absolute terms. You have to fill the ship up with thousands of tons of useful stuff in order for it to be worthwhile to build the ship in the first place. Building Orions is thus a de facto commitment to a large space program. Financially speaking, their launch cost advantages don't start to exist until you've already decided that what you want to do in space involves launching a substantial amount of stuff, and spending a substantial amount of money.