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Project Babylon: Gerald Bull's Downfall

Article #189 • Written by Anthony Kendall

Gerald Bull is a prime example of a man who created his own luck--unfortunately for him most of it was bad. A brilliant and distinguished artillery engineer, Bull spent much of his life in the upper echelons of government-funded weapons research. Though his career took him down a convoluted and often difficult path, he devoted his professional life to a single-minded pursuit of his dream: to build a gun large enough to shoot satellites into orbit.

Bull nearly single-handedly resurrected the science of supergun artillery, and in so doing played a major role in 2 wars. But Bull's confrontational style and brusque manner won him very few friends within the governments for which he worked. His poor networking skills combined with a near total disregard for the dangerous politics in which he meddled led to heavy fines, a short stint in prison, and ultimately, to his assassination.

Gerald Bull was born in Ontario, Canada in 1928 and earned his PhD from the University of Toronto in 1951--the youngest ever to do so. He spent his early career working for the Canadian and US governments doing research in supersonic flight as well as supergun artillery.

His first job was working for the Canadian Armament and Research Development Establishment (CARDE) research facility where he suggested that large artillery be used to test models at supersonic speeds. He argued that because supersonic wind tunnels were expensive to build and operate, a large gun would accomplish the task much more efficiently. His project was funded, built, and operated until its cancellation in 1956. Despite later being promoted to head of the aerospace department in 1958, he was forced to leave CARDE in 1960 because of a variety of both public and private conflicts with his superiors.

Bull moved next to McGill University where he quickly interested the US government in his ideas. With money from both the Pentagon and the Canadian government, Bull established the High Altitude Research Project (HARP). Over the next seven years, HARP built a succession of larger and larger guns with ever-increasing capabilities. By the time the Canadian government pulled out of HARP in 1967 in protest of the Vietnam War, Bull had managed to launch shells more than 60 miles into sub-orbital space.

Embittered by what he viewed as premature cancellations of two very promising projects, Bull went into business for himself. He managed to transfer the HARP gun to his private company, the Space Research Corporation (SRC), on the Quebec/Vermont border before leaving the government project entirely. Bull and the SRC limped along on a variety of small US and Canadian arms contracts until, in the mid-1970s, their first big contract came along.

With the help of the CIA, Bull landed a contract to supply the South African government with 30,000 artillery shells, artillery barrels, and plans for an advanced Howitzer called the GC-45. His help was considered by some to be vital in South Africa's ultimate victory over Angola in that war. But, after President Carter came to office in 1976 Bull was arrested by the UN in South Africa for illegal arms dealing and, as per the terms of his plea, served six months in a US penitentiary in 1980.

After his release, Bull continued to improve his Howitzer designs for the South African company Armscor. The end product was the G5 Howitzer that is capable of firing rounds over 30 miles. It was then--and remains today--one of the most advanced pieces of artillery in the world. But at home in Quebec, he was again sued and fined $55,000 for international arms dealing. After the suit he emigrated from Canada and set up shop in Brussels with a subsidiary of the SRC.

His success on the G5 won the attention of both Iraq and China. He built and sold advanced artillery to both nations through an Austrian outfit throughout the 1980s. Having developed something of a personal rapport with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Bull finally saw an opportunity to realize his ultimate goal. He convinced Hussein that, like Israel, Iraq needed the ability to launch satellites into orbit if it were ever to become a true regional power.

Work began on Project Babylon with a prototype of the supergun in the mid-1980s. This gun, named Baby Babylon, had a bore diameter of about 1 foot, and was approximately 100 feet long. It was mounted horizontally for test purposes, and was believed to have been constructed solely to develop the technology needed for Big Babylon. Nevertheless, Baby Babylon would have had a range of over 400 miles if properly mounted.

The appropriately named Big Babylon was so large that it had to be dug into a hillside for support. Its bore was 3 feet in diameter, and was over 500 feet long. Once completed it would have been capable of launching over 2 tons into orbit--about the size of a small reconnaissance satellite.

Bull was not entirely blind to the implications of Project Babylon, and according to some sources, he briefed several intelligence agencies including Britain's MI5 and Israel's Mossad on the ultimate aims of the project. Because it was completely immobile, slow to fire, and highly visible, Bull argued that Big Babylon was not a direct military threat to Israel or anyone else.

In 1990, the political winds shifted again; Iraq invaded Kuwait. Bull now found himself in the very difficult position of working for a dictator who was suddenly an enemy in the eyes of the entire world. Even worse, Bull had been working for years to improve Iraq's Scud missile in exchange for Hussein's funding of Project Babylon.

In early 1990, Bull's apartment in Brussels was broken into several times over the course of a few months. Each time, items would be purposefully rearranged or carefully ransacked. In retrospect, these break-ins were probably a warning to Bull that went unheeded. In March 1990, Bull was shot five times in the back of the neck while entering his apartment. No one heard the shots, and no one saw the shooter.

There are a number of theories as to who killed Bull. Israel's Mossad is the prime suspect, but there are rumors that the CIA wanted to prevent Bull from talking about its activities in South Africa during the war. Iraq and Iran are both suspects as well; Bull may have been suspected by Hussein of being an agent of the Western governments, and Bull's help in the Iraq-Iran war of the 1980s had meant the deaths of thousands of Iranian troops.

Gerald Bull's story is a fascinating one full of intrigue and tragedy. Like very few others, his fate was tied to events on the world stage. Yet his ill luck owed much to his personality and insensitive pursuit of his dream. After the fall of Iraq in Operation Desert Storm, Project Babylon was dismantled entirely and shipped back to the UK where most of its parts had originated. Brilliant and cagey, Bull carried most of his expertise to the grave. Because of this loss of knowledge, along with his ultimate failure and spectacular downfall, supergun artillery may have forever perished with him.

Article written by Anthony Kendall, published on 26 May 2006. Anthony is a contributing editor for DamnInteresting.com.

Edited by Alan Bellows. Article suggested by Arthur Zingman.

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57 Comments
kysportsfan
Posted 26 May 2006 at 03:33 pm

Very interesting story. I have not really heard anything about Bull. Didn't Hitler try to use a "supergun" against Great Britian during WWII. Didn't Bull learn anything about the problems with such a huge highly immobile weapon?


Prince
Posted 26 May 2006 at 04:06 pm

Correct me if i'm wrong, but does the name tag on picture 2 say HART instead of HARP?


Hayley
Posted 26 May 2006 at 04:09 pm

I doubt very much that supergun artillery will be gone forever...or at least its power. Sooner or later, I'm sure someone will try something like this again, possibly privately funded. Intriguing story, though. I wonder how much of his input and design is still used in the governments he worked for.


Jesta
Posted 26 May 2006 at 04:17 pm

Bull wasn't using the gun as a supergun, rather a satellite launcher.

It does look like H.A.R.T. But it really is HARP (Wikipedia.org)


apology
Posted 26 May 2006 at 04:35 pm

Again, an interesting piece. I'm thinking i should start skipping this comment alltogether now, because I haven't read one single piece I didn't like, even if I'm not at all interested in weaponry and the military.
It is arguable wether or not research will be resumed on supergun artillery, and it is based largely on wether or not it will be needed anymore among the technologies of the future.

And yes, the tag does seem to say H.A.R.T. but I'm guessing that's an acronym for High Altitude Research Team (since they were ID cards). Only an educated guess.


Robot
Posted 26 May 2006 at 05:16 pm

A fairly accurate movie was made about Bull- see:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109650/


cornerpocket
Posted 26 May 2006 at 08:56 pm

Does it occur to anyone that this project or its progeny are most likely being conducted lots of places around the world?? It would not only serve a military purpose, potentially at least, but would have commercial value for transmission and communication satellites. And, since it would all be covert activity, lots of denials and defamations would be par for the course.


sierra_club_sux
Posted 26 May 2006 at 11:31 pm

Seems like firing a satellite through a tube with enough powder charge to launch it into orbit would cause a malfunction or two.


ny_assassin
Posted 27 May 2006 at 12:44 am

Gerald Bull was the most famous NΨ ever, with Parham Aarabi coming a close second. Gerald Bull did his undergraduate degree in Engineering Physics at the University of Toronto. This program eventually became Engineering Science, the most difficult undergraduate program in the world. NΨ Rules.


HunterKiller_
Posted 27 May 2006 at 02:29 am

Cool gun.


Kafka
Posted 27 May 2006 at 02:54 am

He was like Werner Von Braun. Brilliant, but apolitical and selfish. I bet he would have worked for the Nazi's or the Soviets or anyone who would have paid him.

In regards to his supergun, I think it would have made a great satellite launcher, but not a great weapon. First, it would have been kinda slow to fire. Second, it's aim wouldn't have been terribly great. Third, it would have been easily spotted from the air and bombed, because they couldn't move it.

Bull originally wanted to make superguns for the USA, but the Army sensibly saw that the gun would have been absolutely useless in any prolonged military use and shut the project down. Saddam Hussein on the other hand, was an idiot and asked for the gun to be built.

I think the supergun should be remade, but for peaceful purposes only. To ensure that it is only used for peaceful means, we should build it in Swizterland or the Netherlands or Finland. Trust me, they're not gonna attack anyone.


donlaudanny
Posted 27 May 2006 at 04:12 am

The ability to fire something out of orbit would be super cost effective compared to launching rockets now. I doubt it'll be long before private companies pick this up if they haven't already.


PDLagasse
Posted 27 May 2006 at 07:03 am

kysportsfan said: "Didn't Hitler try to use a "supergun" against Great Britian during WWII."

You might be thinking of the Hochdruekpumpe (High Pressure Pump), sometimes referred to as the V-3 or the Tausendfussler (centipede). It was a sectional gun that accelerated the shell down the barrel by a series of sequential detonations in angled side chambers. Reportedly, it had a habit of blowing sections apart when fired.

A pretty interesting history of it here: http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/v3.htm


alias
Posted 27 May 2006 at 09:58 am

Some people are just unlucky...


JustAnotherName
Posted 27 May 2006 at 10:40 am

"Death of a Salesman" comes to mind.


Gary
Posted 27 May 2006 at 12:10 pm

Kafka said: "I think the supergun should be remade, but for peaceful purposes only. To ensure that it is only used for peaceful means, we should build it in Swizterland or the Netherlands or Finland. Trust me, they're not gonna attack anyone."

Problem is that it takes more energy to launch the further you are away from the equator. That is why the European Space Agency launch site is in South America. Damn interesting article.


USNSPARKS
Posted 27 May 2006 at 01:13 pm

I agree that the military uses are almost nil but consider this. If it could be made extremely accurate
a power could conveivably construct one for a single mission. Possibly firing a nuclear shell into
an enemy capitol city. Even if it was highly vulnerable to attack it could still be a viable option.


SparkyTWP
Posted 27 May 2006 at 02:00 pm

I don't think this would be very practical for launching satellites. The G-forces would be enormous, and it's hard enough making the stuff we're currently launching survive.


bhburton
Posted 27 May 2006 at 06:44 pm

Jules Verne, the early French science fiction writer, postulated a gun sunk into the ground that would be capable of firing a shell from the Earth to the Moon. Only, in his version, several persons went inside the shell... and somehow survived the detonation and nearly inconceivable acceleration.


cornerpocket
Posted 27 May 2006 at 07:29 pm

What about having radio-control or heat-seeking or any of a number of features that would make 'accuracy' a moot point. Just point it and fire it and then change directions in midflight. Seems pretty rudimentary to me.


joe schmoe
Posted 27 May 2006 at 10:47 pm

"Even worse, Bull had been working for years to improve Iraq's Scud missile in exchange for Hussein's funding of Project Babylon."

Given the laughable inaccuracy of the Iraqi SCUD missile, I think I would have found a way to get this little bit of info off my resume before I was killed.


Vakunar
Posted 29 May 2006 at 04:37 pm

Its understandable that the Israeli's would be blamed for Dr. Bulls murder, there is a part of me that wonders if it might have been the Iranians. Iraq was a MUCH greater threat to Iran at the time than Israel, not to mention the fact that Iran is quite a bit closer. I remember hearing briefly about Iraq's supergun way back in 1990 before the 1st gulf war. Also one should bear in mind that Iran didnt have any powerful allies to create a disincentive against a foreign attack.


schuylercat
Posted 31 May 2006 at 09:44 am

I remember reading about this guy - even Clancy made mention of him in one of his books if I recall, replete with references to Mossad whacking him. This IS damned interesting - real spy-stuff. The orbital cannon/launcher idea, though, regardless it's ability to throw something at, say, Israel, could throw something...well, almost anywhere, couldn't it (let's assume we keep the gun fixed and steer the projectile...)? And then - it's a gun. Pardon the pun, but this ain't rocket science. Build a big enough barrel, find a big-ass wad of propellant, and you can launch anything...in little bitty peices. I'd say the science here would be more about the physics involved during the first few milliseconds after the "bang" part. Makes me wonder about the use of nerve agent artillery shells used in Iraq. Hate to be the one to pull the lanyard on THAT shot!


elifint
Posted 10 June 2006 at 02:13 pm

It's not actually possible to just shoot something into orbit (this is a classic freshman physics problem). You need to fire rockets near the apogee or it'll just come crashing back down. How were they planning to do this? Could the electronics in a satellite really survive such a thing?


bspz
Posted 12 June 2006 at 04:36 am

This also plays a major role in Frederick Forsyths book "The Fist of Good". It pretty much mentions all the things in the article, I was actually surprised how accurate the book is.


WolfManDragon
Posted 22 June 2006 at 06:29 am

An orbit launching gun is in research even as we speak. Its called a Mass Driver, or a super rail gun.


2dgenredleg
Posted 30 June 2006 at 04:07 pm

Lest you get the wrong impression of "The Doomsday Gun," the HBO movie about Bull, remember two things: it is a work of fiction, and Chris Cowley had been fired by Bull well before many of the events depicted in the movie took place. If you want to see an HBO movie, watch "Water" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090297/). It is more thought-provoking and certainly more entertaining.

If you want to learn more about Bull, put down the remote and pick up "Arms and the Man" by William Lowther or possibly "Wilderness of Mirrors" by Dale Grant. If you want to know more about Project HARP and the things that drove Bull to the Super Gun, read his book, "Paris Kanonen--the Paris Guns", published just before his death. Go do your homework and then we can talk some more.


Dusty
Posted 07 July 2006 at 08:50 pm

This is interesting! I just don't understand why a man needs to be killed after he starts to make money on his own. Oh well!


Scharneeigh
Posted 25 October 2006 at 09:11 pm

My god that is scary. To think that there are people like that, who make these horrible machines with the power to kill god knows how many people, and to just not care about the worldwide repercussions. I wonder, was he assassinated by being shot? Rather ironic. Thank god he's dead. (And I'm a pacifist!)


jhail010
Posted 16 January 2007 at 12:57 pm

Gerald Bulls dream was not to create a weapon of mass destruction, but merely use a gun to put objects into space. This would be far more effecient than the rokets that are being used today. The only problem is that his large cannon, the 1000mm version, would have a recoil equal to that of 27000 tonnes, equivilent to that of an nuclear device being detonated. It is a shame that he was killed.

elifint said: "It's not actually possible to just shoot something into orbit (this is a classic freshman physics problem). You need to fire rockets near the apogee or it'll just come crashing back down. How were they planning to do this? Could the electronics in a satellite really survive such a thing?"

To answer elifint's question. To launch something into space would require incredible speed. Calculated, the projectile would need to travel at 11.4 km/sec to break orbit. The satelite componnents need to be encased to withstand the force. This research is nolonger continued. The gun could only be fired several times, due to the extreme force exerted.

Saddam Hussein built the gun for a clever reason though, to disable satelittes, using a sticky chemical to blind the satelitte. That gun could also be used to fire biological weapons and chemical weapons into cities. Anti-missile systems cannot stop something traveling at 320m/s.


lostindustrial
Posted 16 February 2007 at 11:28 am

He probably had a mild form of autism or asperger's...extreme focus or obsessiveness on 1 item and no social skills to speak of.


Rick
Posted 16 February 2007 at 05:53 pm

A gun of this sort could still present an enormous benifit to a space agency even if electronics still proved too delicate to survive - simply being able to get larger quantities of basic materials into space would be very cost effective and advantageous. Water is a very heavy and expensive item to get into space. If shuttles no longer had to carry water, metals, food stock, etc then more room could be made for each space mission or less supplies needed be taken along (cutting down on fuel requirements).

Also imagine a gun such as this planted on the moon, or Mars where the force required to obtain orbit is much smaller. A mining station could then fire its resources into space where it could be intercepted, have manuevering engines attached, and ultimately guided towards orbital construction centers and such.


TSN
Posted 16 February 2007 at 07:09 pm

"In 1990, the political winds shifted again; Iraq invaded Kuwait. Bull now found himself in the very difficult position of working for a dictator who was suddenly an enemy in the eyes of the entire world."

I think there's a bit of a problem here, since Bull died in March 1990, and the invasion of Kuwait didn't happen until August.


elifint
Posted 16 February 2007 at 07:16 pm

jhail010 said: "

To answer elifint's question. To launch something into space would require incredible speed. Calculated, the projectile would need to travel at 11.4 km/sec to break orbit. The satelite componnents need to be encased to withstand the force. This research is nolonger continued. The gun could only be fired several times, due to the extreme force exerted.
"

That didn't answer my question. To repeat:

"It's not actually possible to just shoot something into orbit (this is a classic freshman physics problem). You need to fire rockets near the apogee or it'll just come crashing back down. How were they planning to do this?"

If you fire it at 11.4 km/s from the earth's surface you don't get it to orbit the earth. You get it leaving earth's vicinity entirely. If you fire it at some speed less than that, it'll arc partway (possibly most of the way depending on how close to escape velocity it was) around the earth and then crash into the earth again. There's no way to get something into orbit with a single impulse applied at ground level. You have to have a second impulse after the thing gets up high.


j4m3sb0nd
Posted 17 February 2007 at 02:35 am

elifint said: "That didn't answer my question. To repeat:

"It's not actually possible to just shoot something into orbit (this is a classic freshman physics problem). You need to fire rockets near the apogee or it'll just come crashing back down. How were they planning to do this?"

If you fire it at 11.4 km/s from the earth's surface you don't get it to orbit the earth. You get it leaving earth's vicinity entirely. If you fire it at some speed less than that, it'll arc partway (possibly most of the way depending on how close to escape velocity it was) around the earth and then crash into the earth again. There's no way to get something into orbit with a single impulse applied at ground level. You have to have a second impulse after the thing gets up high."

I guess they would just put rockets or some such on the satellite to be used as the second impulse, it could be behind an encasing to protect it from initial launch, then the covers could come off when its time to activate them (by remote/automatic control).


hirni
Posted 17 February 2007 at 09:54 pm

I'd love to see an article on the "Mass Driver, or a super rail gun". I've read about this in Sci-Fi and "future of space" type books. Is there really something in the works? (Something non-violent... the "gun" part makes me nervous.)

Also.. Re "There's no way to get something into orbit with a single impulse applied at ground level"... how about Lagrangian points? Is L2 considered Earth-orbit? Maybe there are other uses for the gravity that's out there. Someone clever enough might accomplish almost anything, whether there's a way or not.


examancer
Posted 18 February 2007 at 12:29 pm

It does seem like the supergun is destined to be forgotten. Its certainly capable of exceeding the efficiency of rockets at delivering items into space. However, with all of the hype, focus, and funding into space bridge research it would seem the appropriate time for the supergun is quickly passing. Attaching an elevator to a cable strung between the ground and a platform many miles up is obviously going to be much cheaper and easier than using exotic barrel designs and expensive propellants.

Lets just hope the space bridge promises are delivered on, and in a timely manner.


Krull
Posted 18 February 2007 at 03:31 pm

"Because of this loss of knowledge, along with his ultimate failure and spectacular downfall, supergun artillery may have forever perished with him."

Good. I hope it does.

Kafka said:

I think the supergun should be remade, but for peaceful purposes only.

You know that's not possible. If it's made and it works, it's going to be used. Just look at where Marie (and Pierre) Curie's discoveries got to. We live in a sad world.


another viewpoint
Posted 18 February 2007 at 04:47 pm

...DA-Bull...
...KA-Boom!


NeonCat
Posted 19 February 2007 at 01:25 pm

IIRC from the Nova on Gerald Bull, the larger the bore of your supergun artillery, the less g-forces you end up exerting on your satellite/projectile. HARP had electronics in it, transistors and the like; indeed, I believe there was a laser-guided 16" projectile developed for the US Navy's Iowa-class battleships before they were decommissioned again, so well-built electronics should be able to withstand the shock of firing.

Remember, artillery is your friend unless you are downrange of it.

I don't think the pacifists who are expressing gladness at Bull's untimely death realize what a colossal investment a supergun represents. It wouldn't be much good as a military weapon at all. The damn things can't move an inch, they make a giant target and are easily destroyed. It would be much cheaper and easier to make rockets than a supergun, as witnessed by the fact that there are lots of rockets and no superguns.

I'm afraid I don't know the physics well enough to know whether or not you would need a second expenditure of energy to put something into orbit, classic freshman physics problem or not.


ChickenHead
Posted 21 February 2007 at 12:45 pm

hirni said: "I'd love to see an article on the "Mass Driver, or a super rail gun". I've read about this in Sci-Fi and "future of space" type books. Is there really something in the works? (Something non-violent… the "gun" part makes me nervous.)

Also.. Re "There's no way to get something into orbit with a single impulse applied at ground level"… how about Lagrangian points? Is L2 considered Earth-orbit? Maybe there are other uses for the gravity that's out there. Someone clever enough might accomplish almost anything, whether there's a way or not."

Technically, Lagrangian Points orbit the center of mass of the two body system you are discussing. For the Sun-Earth system, that center of mass is, for all practical purposes, the center of the Sun. Thus, the Sun-Earth Lagrangian Points orbit the Sun (not the Earth) - to arrive at them, one must effectively escape Earth's gravity. And that brings you back to the roughly 11 km/s speeds discussed above.

And yes, as elifint pointed out, without a secondary impulse near the apex of a ballistic ascent, any projectile without sufficient escape velocity *WILL* return back unto the body from which it was launched.


hirni
Posted 21 February 2007 at 08:20 pm

I dunno, chicken head... I agree we'd need to get somewhere near 11.2 km/s, but I think we could shoot something out there at just the right velocity so that the Earth and Moon would start a little tug-of-war and keep it in orbit around L2 without any additional help.


donlaudanny
Posted 24 February 2007 at 09:48 am

Couldn't differential frictional drag of air be use as the 2nd impulse?


FoolsGold
Posted 08 March 2007 at 05:23 pm

Such superguns have been around for centuries. Its only the definition of 'super' that changes.

One of the greatest revolutions in such implements was the development of corned powder. For centuries publishing the formula for gunpowder was punishable by death even though such weapons were rather ineffective. The development of corned gunpowder vastly improved firepower and accuracy.

Various railroad guns in the American Civil War were used but were often found to be cumbersome and not particularly accurate. Certainly such weapons now would be "sitting ducks" for any of a number of highly accurate standoff weapons.


Jeffrey93
Posted 10 March 2007 at 12:09 am

I've seen the movie about this...it was pretty good. Seemed low budget but was very interesting.

I can't recall the specifics of the movie...but I was under the belief that the whole purpose of this 'Super Gun' was to lob warheads at Israel.

Bull might have had different intentions than Hussein, but I really thought that was pretty much the main purpose for the 'Super Gun'.


coin hunter
Posted 22 May 2007 at 01:09 am

wow wounder if it was possible to tilt the earth off of its axis?

wounder how hot an object would get being ejected from such a long barel ?


Futamatagawa
Posted 21 July 2007 at 09:03 pm

If I remember correctly, there wasn`t going to be a "big powder charge". There were to be a series of chemical reactions propagated as the projectile travelled down the tube. He had supposedly already did prooof of concept with a 16" sub-caliber saboted round at HARP.

And contrary to other opinion, it would have been lots cheaper that the current rocket technology.

The Space Shuttle originally had an unmanned variant that more than doubled its cargo capacity. Don`t see that one, do we?

Just because its not built, doesn`t mean its not efficient.


LYCEJ08
Posted 12 August 2008 at 01:20 pm

humm all just want to say is want to share this video that i recently saw in pollclash ..talking about soaring prices of oil and the war in Iraq all of that ..just try to check the video in http://pollclash.com


Remarque
Posted 25 August 2008 at 03:02 pm

jhail010 said:

Saddam Hussein built the gun for a clever reason though, to disable satelittes, using a sticky chemical to blind the satelitte.

"Sir, it appears our radar has been....JAMMED!"

Sorry, I just had to.


Mirage_GSM
Posted 13 October 2008 at 05:24 am

Might be a good way to get all those building materials for the space elevator into orbit. You can fly up all those fancy electronics by shuttle, but the steel and stuff should withstand the g-forces. And instead of a secondary impulse, have someone up there play catch ;-)
Why would anyone want to use this as a weapon to fire unguided projectiles, when there are perfectly good guided missiles with a higher range available at a lesser cost?


rotaryseven
Posted 27 February 2011 at 12:25 am

I just watched the movie about this subject... none of the countries involved comes out looking too good.
But I felt mixed emotions about this subject. Growing up in an area that is predominantly pro-Israeli, I have to admit to a knee jerk affinity to their cause. But on the other hand, I also feel that their attitude towards the U.S. and Britain does border on insolence, but insolence based on years of having been screwed.
The three countries have been supposedly on the same page, but in reality are always on very different tacks on just about every issue. The scene where he gets assassinated did'nt bother me too much. Frankly I think he was a bit suicidal. Working with people from so many different agendas and then switching sides and flip flopping all over the place is not too smooth a way to live a life. It blew my mind how so many people were still working for him and involved with him in any way. Some men are just magnets for trouble and this movie really portrayed someone who really was looking for some real trouble. But I did empathize a little with his dream that was sparked by Jules Verne. As a young man I also read science fiction and dreamed of the future. But unfortunately my math skills never got too good and I never did follow my fathers footsteps into a scientific or math based field. The final analysis of a man like Mr. Bull is that you might try to stay out of politics as much as possible, but when your work is going to affect so many different countries and peoples lives, you will pay the ultimate price.


BHH
Posted 22 February 2012 at 11:00 am

Well.... I have to say that Mr Bull is and always will be someone I look up to. He was at the top of his field. He was an Engineer.... not a business man. He was screwed by the USA. I that never wold have happened I think the world wold be in a much different place right now. The people that stuck with him were loyal to him and shared in his dreams. From all the research I have done as well as reading the book "Bulls Eye" and watching the movie "The Doomsday Gun" and working with ex "Space Research Corporation" employees I can only say this.

Gerald Bull Was a great man. I strongly believe that if he had never been screwed over this one man could have made a difference and we would all be better off today.


kmee
Posted 31 July 2013 at 08:07 pm

I agree BHH, my father worked for Bull. I grew up in Barbados and later Vermont. Bull was often misunderstood but he was a genius and a kind man. No one deserves to die the way he did.


Roger
Posted 31 December 2013 at 05:56 am

In theory, surely it should be possible to fire a shell into orbit with the original explosion? To be in orbit is sometimes described as 'free fall'. A satellite is falling all the time - it's just that its arc of fall exactly matches the curvature of the earth beneath it. With no air resistance in space, the orbit would be stable.

Tricky to do, but in theory......

Or am I being too simplistic?


ed
Posted 01 February 2014 at 12:37 pm

The article on FAS.org mentions a 2000kg rocket assisted projectile for achieving orbit, possibly solving the single-impulse dilemma.


ed
Posted 01 February 2014 at 01:57 pm

ed said: "The article on FAS.org mentions a 2000kg rocket assisted projectile for achieving orbit, possibly solving the single-impulse dilemma."

E.T.A. Martlet 3 series projectiles in the HARP project unsuccessfully pioneered this idea as the solid rocket charge deformed under the G forces at launch.


Pete
Posted 20 May 2014 at 02:53 pm

schuylercat said: "I remember reading about this guy - even Clancy made mention of him in one of his books if I recall, replete with references to Mossad whacking him. This IS damned interesting - real spy-stuff. The orbital cannon/launcher idea, though, regardless it's ability to throw something at, say, Israel, could throw something...well, almost anywhere, couldn't it (let's assume we keep the gun fixed and steer the projectile...)? And then - it's a gun. Pardon the pun, but this ain't rocket science. Build a big enough barrel, find a big-ass wad of propellant, and you can launch anything...in little bitty peices. I'd say the science here would be more about the physics involved during the first few milliseconds after the "bang" part. Makes me wonder about the use of nerve agent artillery shells used in Iraq. Hate to be the one to pull the lanyard on THAT shot!"

He actually said it was NOT the Mossad.


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