November 27, 2012 MSNBC Nightly News & Daily Mail Reporter & Associated Press
It may sound like a plot straight out of a James Bond movie, but a secret US mission to blow up the moon with a nuclear bomb was very real in the 1950s. Scientists were hoping for giant flash on the moon that would intimidate the Soviet Union and the goal was to launch the nuke by 1959. The plan was later scrapped when some of the participating scientists -- including Carl Sagan -- expressed concerns about possible danger to people on Earth.
WASHINGTON, DC (November 25, 2012) -- It may sound like a plot straight out of a science fiction novel, but a US mission to blow up the moon with a nuke was very real in the 1950s.
At the height of the space race, the US considered detonating an atom bomb on the moon as a display of America's Cold War muscle. The secret project, innocuously titled 'A Study of Lunar Research Flights' and nicknamed 'Project A119,' was never carried out.
However, its planning included calculations by astronomer Carl Sagan, then a young graduate student, of the behavior of dust and gas generated by the blast.
Viewing the nuclear flash from Earth might have intimidated the Soviet Union and boosted US confidence after the launch of Sputnik, physicist Leonard Reiffel told the AP in a 2000 interview. Reiffel, now 85, directed the inquiry at the former Armour Research Foundation, now part of the Illinois Institute of Technology. He later served as a deputy director at NASA. Sagan, who later became renowned for popularizing science on television, died in 1996.
The author of one of Sagan's biographies suggested that he may have committed a security breach in 1959 after revealing the classified project in an academic fellowship application. Reiffel concurred.
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.
Reiffel said the nation's young space program probably could have carried out the mission by 1959, when the Air Force deployed inter-continental ballistic missiles.
Military officials apparently abandoned the idea because of the danger to people on Earth in case the mission failed. The scientists also registered concerns about contaminating the moon with radioactive material, Reiffel said.
When contacted by the AP, the US Air Force declined to comment on the project. Conspiracy Theories Featured Plots by
Russia and China to Blow Up the Moon EAW Editor
SAN FRANCISCO (November 26, 2012) -- The revelation that the Pentagon harbored a secret plan to nuke the moon, brings to mind several earlier reports circulated by the sensationalist tabloid, the Weekly World News . WWN was notorious for inventing fake news for the purpose of entertainment and profit. As Wikipedia reports: "The Weekly World News was a largely fictional news tabloid published in the United States from 1979 to 2007, renowned for its outlandish cover stories."
The Wikipedia account is faulty: WWN is still publishing. As recently as 2010, the paper produced a front page "scoop" revealing a Chinese plot to detonate a nuclear blast on the lunar surface. The story is reprinted below.
The disturbing fact is that what seems laughable on its face (when ascribed to Russia or China) was actually contemplated by real scientists working for the US government. This raises the chilling question: "What other plans have been hatched by our government, working in utter secrecy?" The Russians Plot To Blow Up the Moon James Donahue / Perdurabo10
(July 2004) -- We just celebrated the 35th Anniversary of Neil Armstrong's historic walk on the Moon with much hoopla and fanfare. I remember when it happened.
It was July 20, 1969 and I was working as a reporter for the Kalamazoo Gazette. We had a television on in the newsroom. Within minutes after the televised and historic walk, we were sent by the editor to the street to get a general public reaction. Instead of watching events unfold, I was standing in the hot sun on a Kalamazoo street corner, getting stupid senseless comments from unwitting passersby.
Since then, there has been much speculation about the reality of what we were being told and shown that day.…
I read a troublesome story in the publication Weekly World News a year or two ago about a bizarre plot by the Russians to blow up the moon.
The article said the plan, approved by the Russian government, was designed to cause the Earth to tilt differently and consequently improve the Russian growing season. The bad side of the plan, the story said, was that the change would impact weather in the United States.
Demolishing the moon, the story said, "will be a simple matter of placing about 600 multi-megaton nuclear warheads on Soyuz-type rockets and launching at the target."
The horror of this story is that a bomb attack like that probably wouldn't destroy the moon, but it could send it flying out of its perfect orbit around the Earth. This, in turn, would have a devastating impact on all life on this planet.
Everything in the sea, the migration of birds and insects, the change of seasons, and even the menstrual cycles of humans and animals is linked to the regular cycles of the moon and the ocean tides.
Destruction of the moon would be the perfect doomsday device. Once done, nothing could stop the consequential horrors…. The Chinese Plot to Blow up the Moon Frank Lake / Weekly World News
(October 21, 2010) -- China has embarked on a bold plan to control the world's weather patterns – and it begins with blowing up the moon with nuclear space missiles. Wiping out the moon, will affect the United States the most, ushering in brutal temperatures that would ruin our agriculture, experts say.
The wild-sounding Chinese scheme was suggested by five scientists last year at the Chinese Government's National Scientific Forum. Hu Jintao dismissed the idea outright, but they presented it again this year and after looking at the overall benefit to the China, Jintao has given the idea the green light.
Chinese astrophysicist, Chan Wang, that the moon's strong gravitational pull gives the Earth an awkward tilt that causes unfavorable weather patterns over China and favors the United States. "The United States has benefited from the gravitational forces of the Moon. We just intend to level the playing field," said Wang.
The Chinese government said that it would consult with the Obama Administration before sending their nuclear warships to take out the moon. "We want the whole world to be aware of what we are doing. We think that in the long run, everyone will benefit from the destruction of the moon," said a high-ranking Chinese government official.
But NASA officials reviewed the data carefully and feel strongly that the destruction of the moon would bring catastrophic changes to the earth and are strongly advising the Obama Administration to do everything in their power to stop it.
"We are reviewing both sides of the argument," said White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod. "The fact is China is offering to forgive our entire debt if we allow them to blow up the moon. It could be a real economic boon for our country."
"Who needs the moon?" added Robert Gibbs, White House Press Secretary. "It affects the tides and it's good for lighting the nighttime sky, and poets seem to love it, but we don't really need it."
Hu Jinato will be in Washington next week to discuss this issue directly with President Obama. "But we're going to blow it up no matter what. We don't need America's approval," said Wang.
So, enjoy the moon while you can…
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