History 08/01/20 Why the United States and the Soviet Union wanted to blow up the moon atomic bombs
the Space race of the twentieth century forced the superpowers to arrange impressive protests, in order to impress the world community and its own citizens. The United States, whose residents were shocked by the launch of Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin’s flight, regained “space prestige” only after landing a man on the moon in 1969. However, the Americans considered other opportunities to impress a potential enemy. Developed in the bowels of the U.S. air force in 1950-ies “Project А119” assumed a nuclear strike on the moon.
the aim of the project
the Idea to produce an explosion on a natural satellite of the Earth was first expressed in February 1957, Edward teller – Creator of the American hydrogen bomb.
For those times, the fact of a nuclear explosion in space was not something exceptional – America already had nukes, taking them beyond the earth’s atmosphere.
However, the strike on the moon was planned as a major action. Its objective was the demonstration of military and space superiority of the U.S. over the Soviet Union, and at the same time encouraging national patriotism of Americans.
These plans remained unknown to the General public until 1990-ies. Documentation “Project А119” came across the writer Kay Davidson, who studied the biography of astrophysicist Carl Sagan, who in his youth did the calculations the effects of the blast. Some time later, facts confirmed by the project Manager, physicist Leonard Reiffel, collaborated with NASA. However, the official US government the existence of “Project А119” not recognized.
Because the event was about raising awareness, its initiators thought first of all that the explosion could be seen from Earth.
In may 1958, the project involved the organization of the Armour Research Foundation of Illinois Institute of technology. Scientists have to predict what will turn a nuclear attack, and figure out how to make a dust cloud from the explosion larger. For maximum visual effect the bomb was supposed to lose in the region of the moon’s terminator – the line separating the light side of a celestial body from the dark. In this case, the cloud of dust, lit by the rays of the Sun, would have a silhouette visible even to the naked eye.
to Deliver to the moon a heavy hydrogen bomb, Americans have not had the opportunity, so it was decided to use a small warhead W25 with uranium-plutonium charge capacity of 1.7 kilotons. At the time of development of the plan, the military did not yet dispose of means of delivery capable of reaching the moon, however, work in this direction is rapidly moved.
In January 1959, the air force canceled the “Project А119”. As experts believe, the project could collapse due to the fact that he looked ambiguous even for the Americans. In addition, there were concerns that in the case of the failed launch of the warhead could land on the populated territory. Leonard Reifel also cited the argument associated with possible future colonization of the moon, a nuclear explosion could reduce the amount of usable space.
whether there were similar plans in the Soviet Union
to prepare U.S. public opinion for the bombing, the newspaper received information about the existence of Soviet plans to organize a thermonuclear explosion on the moon. It was reported that Moscow was allegedly planned to carry out such a step to the anniversary of the October revolution on 7 November 1957. The 40-day anniversary of the establishment of Soviet power just coincide with a full lunar Eclipse. As you know, nothing like this has happened.
meanwhile, the USSR had a series of plans, the joint letter “E”. They began with the achievements of the lunar surface (E-1) and ended with the explosion of a nuclear warhead, similar in appearance to the marine mine (E-4). The latest draft of the proposed nuclear physicist Yakov Zeldovich, who later insisted that it was not implemented. However, with this version not all experts agree. A Veteran Of “Baikonur” GeneDIY Ponomarev, for example, denies the possibility of a Soviet nuclear explosion on the moon.
Note that in 2007 on the screens out the sci-Fi series “the Great star”, which shows including the atomic bombing of the lunar surface.
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