Rhys Taylor's home page
Science, Art and Data Visualisation

Deep Space Force

What could be more awesome than a spaceship propelled by nukes ? A spaceship propelled by nukes that's armed with lasers, that's what. A battleship was a real, last-ditch attempt to get Orion off the ground – it failed. But this is an idea so cool that it just screams, "ANIMATION !" in a loud and obnoxious voice. 

George Dyson's book describes a battleship variant of Orion being shown to President Kennedy, who rightly hated it. But what if he hadn't ? What if the Soviets had also been preparing their own Orion-drive spaceship with its unrivalled heavy-lift capability ? As it turned out this was just about possible. The Russians did know about Orion, but they never pursued the in-depth studies that the Americans did. Still, in principle the two rival superpowers could have prolonged the Space Race and militarised it. That's the premise of Deep Space Force, an imagining of mine in which the Cold War remains largely cold until at one point, sometime in the 21st century, things finally break in a massive space battle near Callisto. 

Now, if I'd been sensible about this, I would have gone for a one-on-one duel between an American and Russian warship. Of course, I wasn't, so I went for six-on-six. Consequently, by the time the battle starts, I was weary of working on the project for so long. And so it remains unfinished. The final animation is below, but don't expect too much of it graphically – it's an oldie. It has many rudimentary visual issues, and while it's not uninteresting, it is definitely too long. That said, I did go quite heavily in on calculating numbers to ensure the maximum level of realism, while cheerfully allowing visible laser beams in space because that's how I roll. You can read about the nitty-gritty details of this on my blog.

 Some still images are also available.