When word came out that the U.S. likely tested toxic aerosols on unsuspecting Missourians during the Cold War, it was hard to imagine the period offering up any stranger scenarios, but it has.Asian News International reports the U.S. had plans to blow up the moon with a nuclear bomb as late as the 1950s. Of course, that’s a bit of an overstatement as even the burgeoning nuclear stockpiles of the Eisenhower years couldn’t put much of a dent in the battered moon.
At the height of the space race, the U.S. considered detonating an atom bomb on the moon as a display of America’s Cold War muscle. The secret project, named ‘A Study of Lunar Research Flights’ and nicknamed ‘Project A119,’ however was never carried out.
America’s planning included calculations by astronomer Carl Sagan, then a young graduate student, of the behaviour of dust and gas generated by the blast. According to the report, viewing the nuclear flash from Earth might have intimidated the Soviet Union and boosted U.S. confidence after the launch of Sputnik, physicist Leonard Reiffel said.
The American atom bomb was intended to be sent 238,000 miles to the moon where it would detonate upon impact, but the plan was scrapped over concern for earth’s inhabitants if the mission failed.
When contacted by the Associated Press, the U.S. Air Force declined to comment on the project.
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