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Assuming a nuclear pulse propulsion spaceship would be launched to space with conventional chemical rockets and on escape trajectory from Earth, and it would only then start the nuclear pulse engine,

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  • $\begingroup$ What i am trying to find out is that if, let's say for the sake of argument, i would move to one of those countries that haven't signed any treaty, and launched an Orion spacecraft with chemical rockets on an escape trajectory and then fired the pulse engine, what repercussions if any would there be ? Since the country did not sign any treaty banning nukes. $\endgroup$ – John Dec 14 '15 at 0:23
  • $\begingroup$ would there be any chances for modifying the law to allow for a Orion pulse engine ? $\endgroup$ – John Dec 14 '15 at 0:35
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think any country, let alone the USA and Russia's respective military and covert ops, are going to tolerate a private entity building thousands of nuclear bombs regardless of what country they're in. Unless they're in a country that represents an entire new superpower challenging the USA, Russia, and China. $\endgroup$ – ikrase Nov 9 at 21:15
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Using nuclear power, for any reason whatsoever, is looked upon with great suspicion by the existing nations with nuclear capabilities. There are a lot of countries, including the US, that are skeptical of Iran's nuclear program, that they are currently just building reactors, not bombs.

Project Orion included nuclear pulse units that are in practice small nuclear warheads. Also, this combined with orbital capability, would mean a potential for building ICBMs with nuclear warheads.

Even if you circumnavigate the test ban treaty, the international agreements on not spreading nuclear warheads will apply.

However, several countries have not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, of them the nuclear powers Pakistan, India, North Korea and Israel. They have instead signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty. On the other hand countries like France and China have signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but not the Limited version.

An example of a country not signing any of them is Saudi Arabia.

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  • $\begingroup$ How about Israel? $\endgroup$ – Joe L. Dec 13 '15 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Joe L. I forgot about them. Even though they haves signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty, their status of "nuclear ambiguity" allow a lot of wiggle room. $\endgroup$ – Hohmannfan Dec 13 '15 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think that Israel belongs in the same list with Pakistan, India and North Korea. These 3 have tested nuclear weapons and are thus positively known to possess them. Israel's status is ambiguous. For all we know, Israel may be simply bluffing: it's enough for them that others believe they have nuclear weapons. $\endgroup$ – Lesser Hedgehog Dec 26 '15 at 14:10
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The Outer Space Treaty (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_Space_Treaty) bars "weapons of mass destruction" from being placed or used in space. As the propulsion capsules of a nuclear-pulse spaceship are basically atomic bombs, I suspect the OST would apply.

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One of the countries that hasn't signed the treaty would make things quite difficult. So far as I can tell, it seems likely that a launch of Orion would be acceptable with the Treaty, but any testing relating to the treaty would be forbidden. It's hard to do without testing, so it seems unlikely to be of much help.

Wikipedia states that the test ban treaty is generally accepted to be the end of Project Orion.

The Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 is generally acknowledged to have ended the project.

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