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A Nuclear Weapon did that??

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posted on Aug, 25 2012 @ 05:11 PM
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I want you to imagine for a moment that you're an E.T. out somewhere beyond where we humans have the ability to see and watch. You're outside your little ship on an EVA and perhaps doing a repair or cleaning the windows...whatever minor tasks might require you to be out and about, taking in the beauty of Space. Out of the corner of your eye, you catch movement. Movement? Out here?? Just as you begin to focus on what caught your attention...... What the....?!


- ! SPLAT ! -

You've become galactic road kill and the object of your untimely demise? Perhaps the first nuclear propelled man made object ever sent into space. We can't know for sure, because no one ever saw it again or has any clue where it went. Where what went? Oh, let's look at the case of the fastest steel plate to ever fly.

The time was 27 August, 1957. The place, The Nevada Test Site Complex.

...a little background to set the stage is in order.

Operation Plumbbob was the largest and most controversial set of nuclear tests in the Continental United States. The series consisted of 29 detonation tests ranging from a total dud to 140 tons in a fizzle to 74 Kilotons and the largest shot conducted as an atmospheric test in the history of the Test Site and Continental U.S.

Unlike many tests of past times and focus, this series included some more unusual efforts. In addition to the standard tower tests (1) , this series brought the start of underground testing (2). Among the more unusual though were the testing of Air Defense Warheads (3) (Yeah..You read that right. Anti-Aircraft Nuclear Weapons) as well as Anti-Submarine warheads (4). One aspect that made these tests stand out were the extensive use of High Altitude Balloons (3) as the platform to detonate the weapons from. Again, these were the days people came to Las Vegas to watch the Nuclear Testing from a great distance and marvel at the power of the blasts.



This series was also made controversial by the use of 18,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces as well as 1,200 pigs to test exposure effect and the efficacy of protection systems. The Plumbbob Test series was interesting to say the least.

However, I came to this topic by way of that steel plate. Lets see what may be out there still headed somewhere out into deep space from back where Earth had been when it happened.

The Pascal-B Shot


Time: 22:35:00.00 27 August 1957 (GMT)
Location: NTS, Area U3d
Test Height and Type: -500 feet, open shaft
Yield: Often listed as "slight", actual yield 300 tons (predicted 1-2 lb)
Device Description: 64.6 lb; 11.75x15 inches; plutonium pit; PBX 9401 and 9404 explosives


The Pascal-B shot was a part of a test series. The purpose is best summed up by the official descrption of the Pascal-A shot which came in July of the same year.


Pascal-A (originally named Galileo-A) was a one-point safety test, an attempt to verify a primary design that would have a small maximum energy release if accidentally detonated. Accidental detonations can only initiate the detonation at one location instead of the multi-point initiation of a deliberately fired multi-detonator system, hence the concept of the "one point safe" criterion. Even as planned, Pascal-A was unsafe by current safety standards since a nuclear yield of 1-2 lb was expected, compared to current standards of zero yield. But for safety sake, they tested the device near the bottom of a deep open shaft. This was the first US nuclear test to be conducted in an underground shaft, and thus qualifies as the beginning of US underground nuclear testing.
Source

In a bit more context, we also have the description by one of the key men involved with the test series and purpose behind them.


Sometime in 1956 Dr. Alvin Graves, Division Leader of the Test Division at Los Alamos told me that we were going to have to test underground in order to reduce fallout as much as possible. He asked me to see what I could learn about it by making what calculations I could.

The temperatures and pressures generated by a nuclear explosion are such that there was considerable doubt that any underground test buried at a "reasonable" depth could be contained.
Source

Pascal-B differed from the -A shot in a couple key ways though. First, they installed a concrete plug in the shaft this time and in very close proximity to the weapon at the bottom. Atop the shaft, they plugged the hole with what may have become Man's first object sent beyond our atmosphere. Again, I'll leave their words to best explain the physics of how and why it did what it did. It took a combination of effects to produce the end result and it wasn't entirely intended the way it turned out.


Objects can only be propelled to very high velocities by a nuclear explosion if they are located close to the burst point. Once a nuclear fireball has grown to a radius that is similar in size to the radius of a quantity of high explosive of similar yield, its energy density is about the same and very high velocities would not be produced. This radius for a 300 ton explosion is 3.5 meters.

The steel plate at the top of the shaft was over 150 m from the nuclear device, much too far for it to be propelled to extreme velocity directly by the explosion. The feature of Pascal-B that made this possible was the placement of the collimator close to the device. The mass of the collimator cylinder was at least 2 tonnes (if solid) and would have been vaporized by the explosion, turning it into a mass of superheated gas that expanded and accelerated up the shaft, turning it into a giant gun. It was the hypersonic expanding column of vaporized concrete striking the cover plate that propelled it off the shaft at high velocity.
Source

Final figures I came across estimated the speed to be at 66km/sec. Well beyond what is necessary for Earth escape velocity.

Bob Brownlee, a principle in the testing, likened the effect achieved here as what many of us saw as kids by putting an inverted soup can into a coffee can with an M-80 set to explode inside the soup can. Add a little water to direct the effect, and you have a soup can setting records for a kid's view of 'high altitude'.

This image is of the Baneberry Shot on December 18th 1970. It was classified as a major screw up as this venting was NOT intended. Despite that, it shows in vivid detail what a nuclear venting looks like and what, on a smaller scale, helped give our plate it's boost into history.



So that is how a steel plate MAY have actually beat Sputnik to space...and a nuclear weapon did it!
edit on 25-8-2012 by Wrabbit2000 because: Minor Link Correction




posted on Aug, 25 2012 @ 05:24 PM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 



Ever heard of operation starfish prime?



Starfish Prime was a high-altitude nuclear test conducted by the United States of America on July 9, 1962, a joint effort of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the Defense Atomic Support Agency (which became the Defense Nuclear Agency in 1971).


en.wikipedia.org...



Also have youever read the book One Second After? It shows a nuke that was launched into space above the USA that causes EMP and thus shutting down all electricity in the USA

And the scary part about nukes launched into space is Iran and North Korea have that capability.




edit on 25-8-2012 by starwarsisreal because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 25 2012 @ 05:29 PM
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At first I thought you were going to be talking about Project Orion, a proposed system of nuclear detonation propulsion.

I think, however, Pascal B is cited in the wiki article where Pascal B, though accidental was one of those accidentals that make people go hmmmm.

There was a pilot Science Fiction show that only ran one episode, called Virtuality where the starship in the show used the Project Orion paradigm as means for deep space propulsion.
There's many other examples of the Orion Drive in literature and film too

On a different perspective on nuclear powered propulsion, in reality, I seem to recall NASA announcing interest in developing a Fusion Powered Propulsion system which could cut a 6 month trip to Mars down to just a couple weeks.



edit on 25-8-2012 by Druscilla because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 25 2012 @ 05:38 PM
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reply to post by starwarsisreal
 

I must admit the Fishbowl test series wasn't one I'd looked at for this thread. That's really interesting, thanks for the addition!

I started with the idea for this from imagining a Chair welded to our little space travelling plate with the guest of your choice invited to take a load off and have a seat before the countdown finished. Ahh..there are a few I'd love to offer the Throne to in this circumstance.


I must admit though, as you note by your addition, there came to be so MUCH good and fascinating information about the program and the various test series that I was sorely tempted to redefine the whole thread and go in at least a few different directions. Compared to the 'common knowledge' of Nuclear matters as supplied by Hollywood movies, the reality is both stranger and wilder than fiction in many ways.

Save for the obvious insanity as we know it to be today, I do wish I'd been around in the 50's to have personally seen one of those blasts from the distance of Las Vegas or another vantage point. The sight must have been unbelievable by the sheer power unleashed in a few of them.

@Druscilla

Indeed.. The modern Orion efforts by NASA did cross with this research in so far as this specific incident being part of the inspiration for further efforts at exploring Nuclear based propulsion. It's a wild world out there, to be sure. If they could somehow harness this power in a form outside weaponry and do it in a safe way.....if that can be done...then I'd have high hopes for where it could take us. Literally!




edit on 25-8-2012 by Wrabbit2000 because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 25 2012 @ 05:51 PM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


With enough weapons grade payload, a continued and ongoing system of nuclear blasts in a system of pulses could propel a deep space craft up to a respectable percentage of C.
That'd take a considerable supply of expendable non-renewable fuel however, and, and methinks a Fusion system would supply greater efficiency.

From a Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica dog-fight perspective of humor, I'd hate to be the bogey on someone's tail if they lit up an Orion Drive.



edit on 25-8-2012 by Druscilla because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 25 2012 @ 05:55 PM
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Here ya go, the mother of all Atom Bomb Movies! Trinity And Beyond - The Atomic Bomb Movie.

stagevu.com...



posted on Aug, 25 2012 @ 05:57 PM
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reply to post by starwarsisreal
 



And the scary part about nukes launched into space is Iran and North Korea have that capability.


Iran has nukes now?

Crap.



posted on Aug, 25 2012 @ 06:09 PM
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reply to post by Zarniwoop
 


Well any body can buy nukes on the black market nowadays. And plus Iran have the missile technology to do it. After all they are perpaing to retaliate against the coming US invasion of Iran but that's for another thread.



posted on Aug, 25 2012 @ 06:11 PM
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reply to post by starwarsisreal
 


But no one is is doing anything that risky. No one truly wants to F the world. Think we'll be ok.
edit on 25-8-2012 by zonetripper2065 because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 25 2012 @ 06:17 PM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


Well if you want see a space nuke launch well the only place in the world where u can see one is North Korea but then again I doubt little Kimmy would let you see

edit on 25-8-2012 by starwarsisreal because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 25 2012 @ 06:34 PM
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Originally posted by starwarsisreal
reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


Well if you want see a space nuke launch well the only place in the world where u can see one is North Korea but then again I doubt little Kimmy would let you see

edit on 25-8-2012 by starwarsisreal because: (no reason given)

I wasn't able to find any solid reports of North Korea successfully orbiting anything from their Space Program. They claimed to have had a successful attempt in 1998 but the world chuckled at the claim and a subsequent 2009 claim of success was apparently a failure before actually reaching orbit according to the U.S. and South Korea. The last in April of this year seems to have been a rather embarrassing fail. They'll keep at it though, I'm sure.

Iran is a whole different ballgame, of course..and they have successfully launched satellites into Orbit. They're a long way from being the Persian version of NASA, but they are accomplished in their own right as a fledgling space power. I'm told it's quite a leap from putting something into orbit in a functional way to actually launching a guided ICBM and seeing it come back down where one intended it to land.

In fact, I just looked at something and I may be totally out of my element on saying a thing here....I'm no rocket scientist...but something is worth noting on all that and for guidance systems which may or may not work. The United States and North Korea share something relevant to this. Both nations are along the 40th Parallel. That would be almost hilarious to imagine the perfect 'Miss' by Iran to overshoot, wouldn't it? Ooops wouldn't even begin to cover that and perhaps someone in NASA could finally be forgiven their screw up in Metric vs. Standard with that Mars Lawn Dart incident years back.
This overshoot would surpass it.

*Quick Note Added

I wanted to reply on the space program angle because of current political realities, of course..and as with my other threads...I'm no topic Nazi. Heck, if it's in the same realm to my OP, good with me. I'm going to leave my own thoughts of the political here though, given the forum choice and the original intent which was really just the fascinating story of the 'little steel plate the could' and how it came to fly several times that of Earth escape velocity.

edit on 25-8-2012 by Wrabbit2000 because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 25 2012 @ 08:58 PM
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Originally posted by Wrabbit2000
Source
Final figures I came across estimated the speed to be at 66km/sec. Well beyond what is necessary for Earth escape velocity.
...
So that is how a steel plate MAY have actually beat Sputnik to space...and a nuclear weapon did it!
This is interesting stuff, but you appear to have overlooked some important information in your source:


This is about five times Earth's 11.2 km/sec escape velocity, quite close to the figure of six times arrived at by Dr. Brownlee in his detailed computations.

But the assumption that it might have escaped from Earth is implausible (Dr. Brownlee's discretion in making a priority claim is well advised). Leaving aside whether such an extremely hypersonic unaerodynamic object could even survive passage through the lower atmosphere, it appears impossible for it to retain much of its initial velocity while passing through the atmosphere. A ground launched hypersonic projectile has the same problem with maintaining its velocity that an incoming meteor has.
One thing that might help would be making the object into an aerodynamic shape that would reduce drag, but even that would lose much of its velocity.

However a steel plate is so NOT aerodynamic that the idea it escaped the Earth's gravity is implausible despite having an initial velocity 5 times the escape velocity. That sounds like more than enough to escape but it's probably not. The atmospheric drag is simply too great.

Too bad there wasn't some kind of tracking device on the plate so we could figure out what happened to it...it could have traveled a long way.


Originally posted by Druscilla
At first I thought you were going to be talking about Project Orion, a proposed system of nuclear detonation propulsion.
The BBC made a great documentary on this. The scientists went to visit a coca-cola bottling plant to study how large numbers of products could be handled so quickly because they were planning to detonate huge numbers of nukes in very rapid succession. They were somewhat "mad scientists" but Orion might have been able to launch a city-sized spaceship to Mars. Pretty amazing stuff.
edit on 25-8-2012 by Arbitrageur because: clarification



posted on Aug, 25 2012 @ 09:43 PM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 

In fairness, you're right on there being some theories that it would have lost speed long before it got that high and just kind fell back down somewhere in Nevada. Other theories suggested the sheer speed inside the atmosphere would create "Atmospheric Compression" as I saw it written and vaporize it, similar to the skin of the SR-71 expanding at altitude and speed or the Shuttle as it comes the other direction. Given the complete uncertainty by competing theories that each seemed possible, I left the whole fate of our steel plate as the mystery it physically is.

Perhaps some day a hunter or backpacker will stumble across a scorched and deformed mass of steel somewhere across those deserts and solve that little mystery. It would be an interesting end to the story.

As a side note, I'd run the conversions just to get a sense in my mind for how fast it was really moving off the top of the shaft when they got 1 frame worth of image, as it took off... 66km/s equates to Mach 195.



posted on Aug, 25 2012 @ 11:39 PM
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Originally posted by Wrabbit2000
As a side note, I'd run the conversions just to get a sense in my mind for how fast it was really moving off the top of the shaft when they got 1 frame worth of image, as it took off... 66km/s equates to Mach 195.
That's an impressive speed.

For comparison, the Space gun and modern rail guns eject projectiles at about 3.5 km/s or about mach 10, so that was nearly 20 times faster. I doubt it would vaporize completely, but I could sure believe parts of it would vaporize as it was slowing down; there would be plasma at mach 195 like there is with a meteor.

And yes, that would be interesting if someone finds the charred remains some day!


The Super High Altitude Research Project might have launched an object into space had the project not been cancelled. Since they were firing aerodynamically shaped objects it at least had a better chance of working than a steel plate.
edit on 26-8-2012 by Arbitrageur because: clarification



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