In 1957 a small group of scientists launched a madcap scheme to send a nuclear-bomb-propelled spaceship to Mars. It became known as Project Orion, and is one of the most fantastic 'what if' stories ever told.
Orion was to weigh 4,000 tons, carry 2,600 bombs and transport fifty passengers on a voyage around the solar system, eventually travelling as far as the moons of Saturn and back. Its team included the English physicist Freeman Dyson, whose son George was five years old at the time. Now, George Dyson has pieced together the incredible story of Project Orion - much of which is still classified - that his father could tell him only in fragments at the time.
It is a tale of sublime science, crazy engineering and Cold War warriors; of idealism, camaraderie and an age obsessed by dreams of outer space. And it still raises tantalising questions: what if Orion had actually been completed? And, if we had to, could we build it today?