George Dyson Letter

to Mike Flores

About the Orion Paper

Michael Flora--

Thanks very much for the paper. Printed fine and reads well.

Yes, by chance (or perhaps Design) I am related (son, b. 1953) thus the

interest in the subject of your essay. You can imagine how exciting it

was, as a five-year-old boy, to move out to La Jolla so Freeman (otherwise

in an inaccessibly theoretical world) could begin work (with Taylor et.

al.) on actually *building* a space ship. I really believed they would

build the thing and off they'd go. The planets never appeared so close

again. I cannot recall ever asking how they would have landed upon their


But it has been difficult to reconstruct the whole story. McPhee made a

good introduction, Brower popularized further, and the BIS kept promoting

the idea. Freeman himself described the project from the inside,

eloquently, and others, including yourself, have enlarged the background.

Orion awaits the comprehensive history that it deserves.

Presently, and slowly, I am writing a book where Orion figures

peripherally in one of the chapters. So I am following leads such as

yours. Perhaps we could exchange some materials. There is a good paper by

Alan Bond and Anthony Martin: Nuclear Pulse Propulsion: A Historical

Review of an Advanced Propulsion Concept, JBIS v. 32, 1979, pp 283-310

which if you do not have a copy of (not in your references, which, as you

say, have been added to) I can send.

I have not made any effort to examine the Orion files so I might benefit

from the effort you exerted so far. A friend making a Japanese TV film did

succeed, some years ago, in obtaining footage of one of the successful

test flights off Point Loma--very beautiful and very short!

George Dyson