Obscure Object of Desire: Project HARP Space Gun

Project HARP space gun (courtesy slate.com)

Driving from Providence to Austin I encountered more than a few military relics rusting by the roadway. Jets and tanks mostly. Although I  appreciate the nutters who plant these  object des guerres in their front garden (e.g., carmudgeon Jeremy Clarkson) I prefer my aging artifacts on an epic scale. I groove on enormous abandoned Industrial Age factories, for example. Kinda difficult to put one in the backyard though. And yet . . . “Established in 1961 and abandoned in 1967, HARP (High Altitude Research Project) was a joint initiative between the American and Canadian defense departments. Its purpose: to research the use of ballistics to deliver objects into the upper atmosphere and beyond.  In lay terms, the project’s goal was to create a cartoonishly large gun to shoot things into space. The fruit of this partnership, including the massive gun barrel, remains at the Barbados test site.” Not really never been done before material, but it would look good in Texas, right?


  1. avatar Narcoossee says:

    I read on the InterWebs that Red Jacket was going to restore it.

    1. avatar In Memphis says:

      You mean build one and say its never been done before?

      Then blow up a trailer park under the observation of a clandestine SF general hidden away in an SUV.

  2. avatar tdiinva says:

    The gun’s creator, Canadian Gerald Bull, made superguns his life’s work. He eventually went to work for one S. Hussein. He failed to heed warnings from either Israel or Iran and ended up dead in Brussels in 1990.

    1. avatar Adub says:

      Stupid Israelis. They could have let Saddam spend all his money on the thing and then destroy it. Instead we have rockets destroying billion dollar spy satellites on liftoff.

      1. avatar tdiinva says:

        The Iranians also warned him off. Most people presume the Israeli’s did it but the Iranian intelligence service is just as proficient in eliminating enemies.

    2. avatar Swarf says:

      Interesting, thanks for that. No sarcasm.

  3. avatar John L. says:

    Jules Verne would be proud.

    Or … check out some of the concepts for large scale railguns and mass drivers. Same idea, electric rather than chemical drive.

    1. avatar A. Nuran says:

      Came here for this. Leaving happy.

  4. avatar Voice of Reason says:

    I have said it before and I feel compelled to continue my lonely quest by saying it again: should it not be “Object of Obscure Desire”? After all, there is nothing less obscure than a massive gun. It is the desire that is obscure: amorphous, ambivalent, only partly formed.

    I say this again and again and no one backs me up. I feel … so alone …

    1. avatar Nigil says:

      I respectfully disagree. While there are many other large guns, I do not know of any others whose stated purpose was to shoots things into space. Many of the Obscure Objects are singular, or at the very least rare.

      1. avatar Robert Farago says:

        What he said.

    2. avatar William Burke says:

      It’s a reference to a movie by Luis Bunuel of the same name. One of his later movies in a stellar and often hilarious career.

      Thus it would be inappropriate to alter the name, no?

  5. avatar Quentin says:

    Not to be confused with HAARP – High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program – which Conspiracy Theorists have blamed for all sorts of catastrophes.

    1. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

      Or confused with the infamous Harpo Marx.

    2. avatar William Burke says:

      Anything which can beam terawatts of RF into the Ionosphere in various targeted ways to HEAT IT UP is worthy of such suspicions, I should think.

  6. avatar Tim says:

    I came across this gun in a physics textbook wherein it asked me to calculate the velocity needed to reach 180km altitude, and, ignoring air resistance, the time the projectile would be above 100km on the ascent and descent. Turns out to be about 1900m/s and a few minutes. The book also said the projectile is 81kg. Imagine what it would take to get an 81kg projectile up to that kind of speed!

  7. That’s a big gun. Can I get that at Walmart?

    1. avatar Avid Reader says:

      Maybe, but you’ll be limited to two boxes of ammo.

  8. avatar Swarf says:

    Canadian defense department?

    I think Canada is great. I have family there actually, but isn’t Canada’s defense…being Canada?

  9. avatar AznMike says:

    Sounds like the Mass Drivers from Halo. You use one of those things in Halo: Reach

  10. avatar dark alley dan says:

    Seems to have worked well enough in 1812. Nice to see you repainted the presidential mansion. 🙂

  11. avatar Jay Wolf says:

    I want.

  12. As I recall, this used an old US battleship 15″ gun with some massive barrel extensions to allow much greater muzzle velocity.

  13. avatar Dennis says:

    This would make an excellent cannon for pumpkin chuckin. has any body ever seen that in DE. at the end of Oct.?

  14. avatar APBTFan says:

    Gerald Bull makes for some great reading.

  15. avatar William Burke says:

    Barbados? St. Lucia had better watch their p’s and q’s!

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