November 29, 2012

The U.S. planned to nuke the moon

Via Insty we see that the US had plans back in the late 50s to detonate a nuclear device about the size of the Hiroshima A-bomb on ... the moon! How come?

According to [physicist Leonard] Reiffel's report, "The motivation for such a detonation is clearly threefold: scientific, military and political."

The military considerations were frightening. The report said a nuclear detonation on the moon could yield information "...concerning the capability of nuclear weapons for space warfare." Reiffel said that in military circles at the time, there was "discussion of the moon as military high ground."

That included talk of having nuclear launch sites on the moon, he said. The thinking, according to Reiffel, was that if the Soviets hit the United States with nuclear weapons first and wiped out the U.S. ability to strike back, the U.S. could launch warheads from the moon.

Though not mentioned, I am guessing that the advent of SLBM (submarine launched ballistic missile) submarines nixed that idea, since they were in development around the same time. Also not mentioned was the possibility setting off a nuke on our satellite could "act as a giant engine," thereby turning the moon into a gigantic spaceship!

Posted by Hube at November 29, 2012 05:31 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

This story is not news. Carl Sagan broke it publicly in his autobiography over a decade ago. In the specialist space exploration press there was a spate of articles about it right after that.

Posted by: Steve Newton at November 30, 2012 06:38 AM

The article cited here mentions Sagan breaking the news ... and how he was considered a security risk b/c of it.

Posted by: Hube at November 30, 2012 07:22 AM