George Dyson Letter
to Mike Flores
About the Orion Paper
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!