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An exploding high-altitude (25 to 250 miles) nuclear weapon can generate an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) that can zap electronic systems over a wide area — several could potentially take out electronic systems across the country. Periodically there are also solar flares emitted from the sun that could also have this effect.
ELECTRIC POWER INFRASTRUCTURE After EMPs take out electric power systems, emergency power supplies will be limited by supplies of stored fuel, which are increasingly diminishing for fire safety and pollution reasons. BANKING AND FINANCE  The financial services industry comprises a network of organizations and attendant systems that process instruments of monetary value in the form of deposits, loans, funds transfers, savings, and other financial transactions. TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE   Combustion engines are vulnerable to EMPs because they have a lot of electronics to make the engine more efficient, reduce pollution, and so on.  “significant degradation of the transportation infrastructures are likely to occur in the immediate aftermath of an EMP attack.
Although we’ve known about EMPs for a long time, our infrastructure wasn’t built to withstand them because we have depended on MAD to deter an attack.  But now there are terrorist groups as well as rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran.
The 1962 bomb exploded 250 miles above the Johnston Island affected the Hawaiian islands 870 miles away. In 1962 the Soviet Union also set off 300 kiloton detonations from 37 to 300 miles high that affected both overhead and underground buried cables up to 375 miles away, as well as surge arrestor burnout, spark-gap breakdown, blown fuses, and power supply breakdowns.
Mutually assured destruction, or MAD, is at the basis of our nuclear deterrent system.  If we’re attacked, we’ll counterattack.
There are hundreds of articles on the web about this topic.  The Foster article is the most comprehensive one that I found. This entry was posted in Electric Grid, EMP Electromagnetic Pulse and tagged collapse, electric grid, electromagnetic pulse, EMP, fast crash, infrastructure, solar flare.
The electric power system in the US and interconnected areas of Canada and Mexico is outstanding in terms of its ability to meet load demands with high quality and reliable electricity at reasonable cost. As a result, the existing National electrical system not infrequently operates at or very near local limits on its physical capacity to move power from generation to load. The transformation of the United States from a nation of farmers to a nation where less than 2 percent of the population is able to feed the other 98 percent and supply export markets is made possible only by technological advancements that, since 1900, have increased the productivity of the modern farmer by more than 50-fold.
For example, municipal road traffic will likely be severely congested, possibly to the point of wide-area gridlock, as a result of traffic light malfunctions and the fraction of operating cars and trucks that will experience both temporary and in some cases unrecoverable engine shutdown. Street light systems failed, burglar alarms were triggered, and a telecommunications relay facility was damaged. However, over the last decade or two, there has been relatively little large-capacity electric transmission constructed and the generation additions that have been made, while barely adequate, have been increasingly located considerable distances from load for environmental, political, and economic reasons. Therefore, the slightest insult or upset to the system can cause functional collapse affecting significant numbers of people, businesses, and manufacturing.
Virtually all American economic activity depends upon the functioning of the financial services industry.
Technology, in the form of knowledge, machines, modern fertilizers and pesticides, high-yield crops and feeds, is the key to this revolution in food production. Railroad traffic will stop if communications with railroad control centers are lost or railway signals malfunction.
The national security and homeland security communities use commercial satellites for critical activities, including direct and backup communications, emergency response services, and continuity of operations during emergencies.

EMPs can fry the entire nation’s ground-based electronic nuclear command and control system. In 1958 dollars, an Orion mission would have cost 11 cents per kilogram sent into space, while in 2005 dollars, it would cost 70 cents per kilogram (Farmbrough). It is not surprising that a single EMP attack may well encompass and degrade at least 70% of the Nation’s electrical service, all in one instant. Today, most financial transactions that express National wealth are performed and recorded electronically.
Much of the technology for food production directly or indirectly depends upon electricity, transportation, and other infrastructures. Commercial air traffic will likely cease operations for safety and other traffic control reasons. As the infrastructure becomes more interconnected and interdependent, the transportation industry will increasingly rely on information technology to perform its most basic business functions. More mass fraction would be cargo if you send it up one way.Ben Pearson, Central Arizona College worked out the details of the radiation and EMP. Virtually all transactions involving banks and other financial institutions happen electronically. It is not surprising that a single EMP attack may well encompass and degrade at least 70% of the Nation’s electrical service, all in one instant”. Essentially all record-keeping of financial transactions involves information stored electronically. Supermarkets typically carry only enough food to provision the local population for 1 to 3 days.
He wrote an Orion simulator.Orion, in its most researched form, is a 4000-ton ship, 1000 for the ship, 1000 for the pusher plate, 1000 for the bombs, and the last 1000 for payload.
The financial services industry has evolved to the point that it would be impossible to operate without the efficiencies, speeds, and processing and storage capabilities of electronic information technology.
Supermarkets replenish their stocks on virtually a daily basis from regional warehouses that usually carry enough food to supply a multi-county area for about one month. According to Ted Taylor’s biography, a normal fission bomb, such as was dropped on Hiroshima, is shaped in an elliptical shape. The large quantities of food kept in regional warehouses will do little to alleviate a crisis if it cannot be distributed to the population in a timely manner. This allows the resulting fireball from the nuclear explosion to be in a shape somewhat like a car wheel, so it can cause the maximum damage to an object on the ground. The outermost mainly a protective layer, but reflects some of the heat from the initial explosion inward, waiting until it can convert the maximum matter into energy. The next layer is of C-4, which is one of the most explosive chemical bombs, and also one of the easiest to shape. This layer is the first part to a nuclear reaction; it explodes simultaneously to implode the ball of plutonium 239. The next layer is a reflective shield, usually made out of Uranium 238, which allows the explosion more time after it reaches critical mass to cause a chain reaction.

The next layer inwards is a thin layer of plutonium, shaped again something like a football. This is different than the first generation of nuclear bombs such as was dropped on Hiroshima, and was primarily the invention of Ted Taylor.On the other hand, an Orion fission bomb, or as those who designed them like to call them, pulse unit, is shaped more like a wheel, only very thin. It is classified information, but I believe it is somewhat concave inward, as compared to most bombs being concave outward. It would probably use urea to cause the implosion that would result in the nuclear explosion. Urea is used because this would make the bomb the most efficient it can be, due to urea’s high opacity, which means that it will absorb the most radiation and convert it into kinetic energy, which can be transferred to the spacecraft.
It has been estimated that the total fallout of one launch of Orion would be about 1% of the radiation that had been launched into the atmosphere. In all actuality, there would be thousands, if not millions, of people whose lives would be shortened slightly, totaling the lives of 10 people. In other words, if one million were affected, it would shorten their lives by about 3 hours.
And it is likely that more than just one million people would be affected, lowering the number more.In the end, I determined a radius of 276 kilometers, or about 170 miles, would be affected.
Note that the first number is the distance from ground zero, the second the number of times an Electromagnetic burst damaged the area, even if only minor. There are not many areas where this would be safe, and probably the best would be the magnetic North Pole.When I started this project I was hoping to come up with a result that would encourage me to be completely unsupportive of Project Orion.
However, as I studied, I found that there are so many pros to an Orion launch, and most of the cons are minor, especially providing certain selections in choosing a site for the launch of Orion. Providing that Orion can create nuclear bombs that produce very little to no fallout, and it is launched at the Earth’s Magnetic North Pole, then I support a ground based launch of a Project Orion spaceship. In order for me to fully support it, I would request it to be a development among all industrialized nations, such as the Space Station Alpha. It must also carry replacement satellites or the tools and materials to construct them in case anything is destroyed by the space electromagnetic pulse effect, and is launched at a time where it would be the least bothersome to man-made satellites already in orbit.
In other words, its time would need to be at a moment when it is most easily able to avoid satellites, especially the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station.My reasoning behind the Magnetic North Pole is as follows.
All of the magnetic lines come to the poles, so they can’t trap radiation nearly as much as with a launch closer to the equator. This extreme design could be built with materials and techniques that could be obtained in 1958 or were anticipated to be available shortly after.
The practical upper limit is likely to be higher with modern materials.Most of the three tons [3000 tons] of each of the "super" Orion's propulsion units would be inert material such as polyethylene, or boron salts, used to transmit the force of the propulsion unit's detonation to the Orion's pusher plate, and absorb neutrons to minimize fallout.

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