Because Project Orion was undertaken in secrecy (which persisted until 1975) few people today grasp the scope of the program, or the benefits it may have delivered.
Recently declassified internal budget documents show that, in 1962, the US Air Force had plans to build entire fleets of giant Orion spacecraft, and was prepared to commit almost 20 percent of its requested space budget from 1963 to 1967 to its realization.
I highly recommend the article Starfleet was closer than you think by Major Brent Ziarnick and Lt. Col. Peter Garretson published in The Space Review, Monday, March 16, 2015.
The article correctly points out Orion’s staggering payload capacity and its ability to sustain humans on long duration deep space missions.
“Where a Saturn V at 3,500 tons could only put two tons on the Moon, Orion (about the same total mass, 4,000 tons) could soft-land 1,200 tons (600 times as much) o