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US planned to nuke the moon

Triton

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"Confirmed: US planned to nuke the moon"
Published: 26 November, 2012, 21:13

Source:
https://rt.com/usa/news/us-moon-nuclear-project-631/

In a secret project recently discovered, the United States planned to blow up the moon with a nuclear bomb in the 1950s as a display of the country’s strength during the Cold War space race.

The secret project, called “A Study of Lunar Research Flights”, as well as “Project A119” was never carried out but initially intended to intimidate the Soviet Union after their launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, which demonstrated their technological power, the Daily Mail reports.

The sight of a magnificent nuclear flash from Earth was meant to terrify the Soviet Union and boost US confidence, physicist Leonard Reiffel, 85, told the Associated Press. The nuclear device would have been launched from a missile from an unknown location. It would have ignited upon impact with the moon, causing a massive explosion that was visible from Earth.

The detonation would have been the result of an atom bomb, since a hydrogen bomb was too heavy for a missile to carry the 238,000 miles to the moon.

Astronomer Carl Sagan was responsible for some of the calculations that could cause the nuclear detonation. Sagan, who later became a famous author of popular science, was a young graduate student at the time. He worked as a NASA advisor from the 1950s onward and died in 1996.

One of Sagan’s biographers claims he may have committed a security breach by revealing the classified project in 1959 in his application for an academic fellowship. Reiffel, who once served as deputy director at NASA and was responsible for the nuclear research at the Armour Research Foundation in 1958, confirmed this claim.

In his interview with AP, which took place in the year 2000, Reiffel said the nuclear detonation could have occurred by 1959, which is when the US Air Force deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles. The project documents were kept secret for nearly 45 years and the US government has never formally confirmed its involvement in the study.

But in the end, the mission was abandoned due to safety concerns about the radioactive material that would contaminate space. The scientists were also worried about the bomb detonating prematurely, thereby endangering the people on Earth.

Rather than blow up the moon, the US continued the space race, sending its first satellite, Explorer 1, into orbit on Jan. 31, 1958. The project was officially canceled by the Air Force in Jan. 1959, and the US instead focused on sending a man to the moon.
 

Jemiba

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Apart from the fact, that "blowing up the moon" would be beyond the possibilities even of the combined
cold war nuke arsenals, it's a little bit funny to read, that "Rather than blow up the moon, the US continued
the space race, sending its first satellite, Explorer 1, into orbit on Jan. 31, 1958".
That was their compensation, really ? Would have been interesting to see, how they would have brought a nuclear
warhead, which would create an explosion visible from earth, to the moon then ! ;D
 

chuck4

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It would take roughly a hundred quadrillion (10^17) megatons of energy to "blow up" the moon in the sense of overcoming the moon's gravitational binding energy and causing it to fly apart. That's trillions of times more energy than in all of the nuclear weapons ever made.

:p


Speaking of nuking the moon and seeing it from earth, NASA recently discovered, in amateur video footages of the moon taken during meteor showers, flashes on the dark side of the moon appearently caused by impacts of meteors on the moon. These flashes were judged to be equal in energy to detonation of just a few tons of TNT. These flashes would technically have been visible to the naked eye on earth were it not for the glare of the lit side of the moon.

As to a nuclear detonation on the moon, besides the bright but almost instantaneous flash, I am not sure there would be a great deal of other stuff to see. There would be no air, so there would be essentially no persistent fireball or glowing mushroom cloud. If you detonate the weapon on the moon's surface, it would kick up a big puff of dust, but without air, the dust would just follow ballistic trajectory and fall back to ground. That's it. A few seconds, or at most a minute or two, and the show's over. It would be the most underwhelming grand gesture of the space age.
 

Triton

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But I presume that if the United States had detonated a nuclear-armed missile (rocket) on the moon that the Soviet Union would have sent their own as a response. I also do not believe that the author of the story intended to convey that the United States intended to reduce the entire mass of the moon to bits of rubble.
"Blow up" [is] a violent release of energy caused by a chemical or nuclear reaction.
Source:
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/blowup

:p ;D
 

chuck4

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Triton said:
"Blow up" [is] a violent release of energy caused by a chemical or nuclear reaction.
Source:
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/blowup

:p ;D


Yeah, but there is also the implication that the energy release would be enough cause serious damage. Otherwise it is not blown up. You don't stick a hand granade under a tank and consider the tank "blown up"
 

Michel Van

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A-119 Was not the first US project


under project Red Sock was also the proposal to use a Nuke,
here a probe fly true debris cloud and collect lunar rock and bring it back to Earth
(that the Nuke make the Lunar rock sample unusable for geologist is another matter... )
http://utenti.multimania.it/paoloulivi/nuke.html
http://utenti.multimania.it/paoloulivi/redsock.html


Next to that was proposal of a insane US scientist, who wanted to remove the Moon.
yeah you read right remove the Moon.
Alexander Abian consider the Moon as disruptive influence. who cause tides, earthquake and storms.
He wandet drill a hole in moon and fill it up with nuclear weapon & waste and nuke it.
Why do remind me this scenario on that ?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4-A__lZrEA
 

chuck4

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Michel Van said:
Next to that was proposal of a insane US scientist, who wanted to remove the Moon.
yeah you read right remove the Moon.
Alexander Abian consider the Moon as disruptive influence. who cause tides, earthquake and storms.
He wandet drill a hole in moon and fill it up with nuclear weapon & waste and nuke it.
Why do remind me this scenario on that?

Yeah, the moon also keeps the poles of the earth pointed in roughly the same direction in the sky. Without the moon, the rotation axis of the earth would wander randomly, making the earth a, not necessarily living, hell.
 

Orionblamblam

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Michel Van said:
Next to that was proposal of a insane US scientist, who wanted to remove the Moon.
yeah you read right remove the Moon.
Alexander Abian consider the Moon as disruptive influence. who cause tides, earthquake and storms.
He wandet drill a hole in moon and fill it up with nuclear weapon & waste and nuke it.

The man was a certifiable whackjob. I was going to Iowa State U when he gain notoriety in the tabloids over these "proposals," so we invited him to speak at the Iowa State Space Society. We were expecting him to clear up obvious mis-statements by the press... but if anything, they had made him seem *less* insane. He believed that orbital mechanics was a matter of wishing real hard, not hard numbers, and he wanted to plop the moon down onto the south pole (gently, of course, because it wouldn't be that hard) in order to increase the livable area of the Earth.

You've not seen a better demonstration of "aghast" than those of us in the room. To find that a mathematics teacher from your on U was this caliber of bonkers was a bit of a shock.

From his official ISU webpage:

ABIAN MASS-TIME EQUIVALENCE FORMULA m = Mo(1-exp(T/(kT-Mo))) Abian units.
ALTER EARTH'S ORBIT AND TILT - STOP GLOBAL DISASTERS AND EPIDEMICS.
ALTER THE SOLAR SYSTEM. REORBIT VENUS INTO A NEAR EARTH-LIKE ORBIT
TO CREATE A BORN AGAIN EARTH (1990)

Oy.
 

Michel Van

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Orionblamblam said:
The man was a certifiable whackjob. ... He believed that orbital mechanics was a matter of wishing real hard, not hard numbers, and he wanted to plop the moon down onto the south pole (gently, of course, because it wouldn't be that hard) in order to increase the livable area of the Earth...

From his official ISU webpage:

ABIAN MASS-TIME EQUIVALENCE FORMULA m = Mo(1-exp(T/(kT-Mo))) Abian units.
ALTER EARTH'S ORBIT AND TILT - STOP GLOBAL DISASTERS AND EPIDEMICS.
ALTER THE SOLAR SYSTEM. REORBIT VENUS INTO A NEAR EARTH-LIKE ORBIT
TO CREATE A BORN AGAIN EARTH (1990)
landing the moon on.. on the south pole ?!


 

Jemiba

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"...The project documents were kept secret for nearly 45 years and the US government has never formally
confirmed its involvement in the study. "

At least it's a scrap of comfort, that such ideas seem to have been regarded as an embarrasment by a
government, although most of us probably are of the opinion, that for nowadays leaderships nothing is embarrassing ! ;D

Nevertheless, good ideas may have been forgotten for decades, but such crazy things still get coverage
in the media ! ::)
 

Stargazer2006

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Thanks folks. I hadn't read such a string of wacky ideas all in one page for quite a while! ;D
 

Abraham Gubler

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Its good to see RT has inherited Pravda's love of hyperbole. The US never planned to nuke any moon, some scientists proposed it. And no wonder their idea was never followed up. I would imagine the earthly detonation of nuclear bombs both in WWII and in testing kind of got the message across...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdRo7okHCAc
 

Stargazer2006

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"Detonation"?!? In space? I've always been told there can be no detonation when there is no atmosphere to carry the sound... :eek:
 

Abraham Gubler

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Stargazer2006 said:
"Detonation"?!? In space? I've always been told there can be no detonation when there is no atmosphere to carry the sound... :eek:

The moon does have an atmosphere. Its less than one hundred trillionth the density of Earth's but still much higher than true vaccum in space.

I wonder how loud an A Bomb would sound in such density? Something increadibly loud on Earth might just make a whimper... But I doubt the atmosphere is thick enough to pass a sound beyond the destruction radius of the blast.

Of course this entire post is entirely inspired by this movie scene:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9l6vcoPtaU
 

Michel Van

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Stargazer2006 said:
"Detonation"?!? In space? I've always been told there can be no detonation when there is no atmosphere to carry the sound... :eek:


Here the real thing
1960s the US tested nukes in high altitude of 100 km above the ground


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ier2g-4rHu0&feature=endscreen


the black zigzag line is thor rocket fume...
 

Stargazer2006

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But there still is some atmosphere at 100 km altitude, right?

We'll never know the consequences of such experiments on the climate and nature over the days and months that followed, but my guess is that it wasn't without some impact on the environment.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Stargazer2006 said:
But there still is some atmosphere at 100 km altitude, right?

We'll never know the consequences of such experiments on the climate and nature over the days and months that followed, but my guess is that it wasn't without some impact on the environment.

While a nuclear bomb may be pretty big to a human's perspective by global atmospheric standards its a very, very small thing.
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
Stargazer2006 said:
"Detonation"?!? In space? I've always been told there can be no detonation when there is no atmosphere to carry the sound... :eek:

The moon does have an atmosphere. Its less than one hundred trillionth the density of Earth's but still much higher than true vaccum in space.

I wonder how loud an A Bomb would sound in such density? Something increadibly loud on Earth might just make a whimper... But I doubt the atmosphere is thick enough to pass a sound beyond the destruction radius of the blast.


It's not my area of expertise, but I think the power of sound delivered from same source to same receiver would be roughly proportional to density of medium, so all else the same, sound from the same nuclear detonation on the moon would be 150 decibels less loud to the same receiver than on earth.


I also think extremely thin medium may react differently to sound passing through it them denser mediums. I think sound may dump its energy entirely into heating the medium rather than sending a wave through it. This seems to be how the sound waves from turbulence on the surface of the sun could heat the tenuous gases in the solar carona to millions of degrees even though radiation from the sun should be able to heat it only to a few thousand degrees.
 

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I want to live on an Earth where the moon is balanced on the South Pole and attracting residents. Our Earth just seems boring now.
 

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Yeah, didn't you know planets and moons are just little marbles for him to play with? He can move them where he wants and place them where he wants.
 

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Stargazer2006 said:
"Detonation"?!? In space? I've always been told there can be no detonation when there is no atmosphere to carry the sound... :eek:

You've been lied to. A detonation occurs when a chemical, atomic or some other explosive goes off with a propogation speed (the rate at which a line separating "unreacted explosive" from "reacted explosive") faster than the speed of sound in that explosive. Has nothing to do with the surrounding medium. A stick of C-4 set off by a blasting cap, or a thermonuclear bomb, or the matter/antimatter core of a photon torpedo all "detonate" when touched off in deep space, at the bottom of an abyssal trench, or in Lady Gaga's back yard.
 

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Well, nuclear explosions is not driven by a supersonic exothermic front pushing a shock wave, so there is still no detonation when a nuclear weapon goes off.
 

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chuck4 said:
Well, nuclear explosions is not driven by a supersonic exothermic front pushing a shock wave, so there is still no detonation when a nuclear weapon goes off.

Wrong premise and wrong conclusion. Nuclear exposions *do* produce supersonic fronts and shock waves. The blast moves out at a good fraction of the speed of light, while the speed of sound not only in the air around (if any) but also in the bomb casing, the lithium deuteride, the uranium, the plutonium. An atomic explosion is most assuredly *not* a subsonic event.

And for the record: most nuclear explosions ARE driven by a supersonic exothermic front pushing a shock wave. An RDX detonation is used to drive the fissionable pit at massively supersonic speeds into a critical mass. You can't make a nuke go off by whacking it with a hammer or jumping up and down on it; you need some impressive explosives.
 

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Orionblamblam said:
chuck4 said:
Well, nuclear explosions is not driven by a supersonic exothermic front pushing a shock wave, so there is still no detonation when a nuclear weapon goes off.

Wrong premise and wrong conclusion. Nuclear exposions *do* produce supersonic fronts and shock waves. The blast moves out at a good fraction of the speed of light, while the speed of sound not only in the air around (if any) but also in the bomb casing, the lithium deuteride, the uranium, the plutonium. An atomic explosion is most assuredly *not* a subsonic event.

And for the record: most nuclear explosions ARE driven by a supersonic exothermic front pushing a shock wave. An RDX detonation is used to drive the fissionable pit at massively supersonic speeds into a critical mass. You can't make a nuke go off by whacking it with a hammer or jumping up and down on it; you need some impressive explosives.


The fact that an explosion creates a supersonic shockwave in the medium around it does not make it a detonation. A detonation requires the reaction supplying the main energy for the explosion to actually propagate through the actual raw material of the reaction by an supersonic exothermic front pushing a shock wave through the material.


The fact that nuclear explosions are triggered by detonation of chemical explosives does not make nuclear explosion a detonation. The chemical detonation supplies only a neglibly small fraction of the energy of the explosion.


Nuclear explosion in a fissile material does not propagate through the fissile material as an expanding exothermic front pushing a shockwave. It is exothermic, yes. But it does not propagate because it is exothermic or it pushes a shockwave. In fact, the heat works against the reaction. The explosion propagates by a flood of neutrons and proceeds faster through the fissile mass than the shockwave.
 

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chuck4 said:
A detonation requires the reaction supplying the main energy for the explosion to actually propagate through the actual raw material of the reaction by an supersonic exothermic front pushing a shock wave through the material.

Which nukes do. Done.


The explosion propagates by a flood of neutrons and proceeds faster through the fissile mass than the shockwave.

And yet the shockwave is initially supersonic. Thus, detonation. Done.

If there's *any* kind of explosion characterized by a sudden, sharp shock wave, it'd be a nuke.
 

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It's more than just the possible presence of a sudden shock wave inside the explosive material. The wave has to control the pace of the reaction for their to be a detonation. In nukes, any wave is incidental to the reaction. The progress of the fission reaction is indifferent to the pace of the physical shock wave, and spreads by neutron flux which moves much faster than any physical shockwave. The procesonion fission in a nuke is not analogous to a chemical detonation.



There are nuclear explosions which genuinely are detonations. These happen in the center of certain types of supernovas. The pressure and temperature near cores of stars are so high the hydrogen or helium there are already close to fusion. A core collapse would initiate runaway fusion near the center of the star, setting up a supersonic shock wave propagating outwards through the star. The shockwave compresses hydrogen on the way out and cause them to undergo fusion as well. So here is a true analogue to Chemical detonation where pace of reaction is being controlled by progress of supersonic exothermic front pushing a shockwave through an explosive medium. But this is not how nuclear weapons work.
 

Michel Van

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here high quality video about last Nuke test including Starfish prime, with Nuke detonation in 400 km altitude
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YcXkaUlqug


if you not have enough of it, Here one hour documentation on Starfish Prime for military
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZoic9vg1fw&feature=related
 

Graham1973

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Tangentally related to the OP, a while back I tried to figure out a 'realistic' version of the Apollo mission in Barry Malzbergs 'The Falling Astronauts'.

My best guess at how to actually do it would be to replace the LRV on a J-class LM with a small nuke, land it somewhere central to the Apollo seismic network and then detonate it after the astronauts have returned to orbit.

What I've never been entirely sure of is:

1. How big/heavy would the device be?
2. Would the shockwave transmit to the ground if it was detonated mounted on the LM descent stage?
 

Orionblamblam

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chuck4 said:
The wave has to control the pace of the reaction for their to be a detonation.

Not by any practical definition I've ever seen used. Nor by any defintion used by the DoD, which is quite comfortable referring to a nuclear explosion as a nuclear detonation.

http://dsearch.dtic.mil/search?q=%22nuclear+detonation%22&site=tr_all&client=dticol_frontend&proxystylesheet=dticol_frontend&proxyreload=1&filter=0&tlen=200&getfields=*

People who design and build nukes are quite comfortable describing "nuclear detonations." When I worked with explosives for United Tech, "detonation" was clearly defined as an explosion that proceeded at or faster than the local speed of sound... thus the utility of deflagration-to-detonation materials and processes for setting off high explosives.

AND ANOTHER THING: From the actual report on nuking the moon:

Among​
various possibilities, the detonation of a nuclear weapon on or near the​
moon's surface has often been suggested. The motivation for such a detonation
is clearly threefold: scientific, military and political.​
The scientific Information whicht might be obtained from such​
detonations is one of the major subjects of inquiry of the present work.​
Such a conclusion does not,​
of course, argue for the casual detonation of a nuclear weapon near the​
moon, but it does appear that with instrumentation emplaced on the moon​
prior to such a detonation which would, in fact, be capable of making meaningful​
measurements, the influence of a subsequent nuclear detonation would​
not be as detrimental to the information content of the moon as is sometimes​
argued. Clearly, however, it will be to the advantage of any experiment to​
have data on the natural radiation before detonation of any device producing​
radioactivity.[/l]​
 

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One of the most crazy ideas that I have ever heard in my life. The consequences for the Earth would have been severe.
 

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One of the most crazy ideas that I have ever heard in my life. The consequences for the Earth would have been severe.
Political consequences, yes. Physical, not so much. It takes a lot more than nuclear weapons to inflict enough damage on the Moon to affect Earth in any noticeable way. A major asteroid impact?
 

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Hi. A side note, though…

This original idea was discussed — if not implicitly by Jules Verne in his 1865 novel —, by a well known churchman, astronomer Abbé Théophile Moreux in a popular magazine article published in july 1918, a few months before the end of WWI.

Abbé Moreux [Théophile Moreux], "Peut-on bombarder la Lune ?," Lectures pour Tous, 15 juillet 1918

A.
 

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And in 1919, Robert Goddard suggested sending a rocket to the moon with enough flash powder to make the impact visible from Earth. He even conducted experiments to determine the amount of flash powder needed.
 

astro

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Here's there 1959 report from the Armour Research Foundation.
 

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