Yahoo News – Nov 26, 2012
The U.S. had planned to blow up the moon with a nuclear bomb in the 1950s.
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 behavior of dust and gas generated by the blast, the Daily Mail reports.
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.
Under the scenario, a missile carrying a small nuclear device was to be launched from an undisclosed location and travel 238,000 miles to the moon, where it would be detonated upon impact.
The planners decided it would have to be an atom bomb because a hydrogen bomb would have been too heavy for the missile, the report said.
Military officials apparently abandoned the idea because of the danger to people on Earth in case the mission failed, the report added.
The scientists also registered concerns about contaminating the moon with radioactive material, Reiffel said.