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According to the renowned physicist Leonard Reiffel, the United States planned to detonate a nuclear bomb on the surface at the Moon during one of the bitterest periods of the Cold War in an attempt to intimidate the Soviet Union with a spectacular display of American nuclear capabilities.
The United States once planned to set off a nuclear bomb on the Moon
The project was given the innocuous name of ‘A Study of Lunar Research Flights’ and was often referred to as ‘ProjectA119’. It appears as though the government of the United States did give serious consideration to the plan, even going as far as recruiting the famous Carl Sagan to work on the unbelievable project. The operation was scheduled to go ahead in 1959, but the scientists working on the project advised the military not to go through with it as they were concerned about potentially contaminating the lunar surface with the radioactive fallout caused by the nuclear blast.
The revelation that this project existed has led to questions about whether the United States would have been able to pull off this operation successfully if the will had been there to initiate it. According to scientists and other experts, it would have been practically impossible for the United States to have created a nuclear flash on the Moon that could have been seen from the planet Earth. Christopher Helman of Forbes has suggested that it would take 1.25×10^29 joules of energy to blast the moon in this manner. This is the equivalent of 30 trillion megatons of dynamite, which is a staggering 600 billion times larger than Russia’s Czar Bomba (King Bomb). This means that the United States would have had to have transported an incredible number of bombs to the surface of the Moon to lay the foundations for pulling off this plan and, naturally, transporting them there would have taken several multi-stage rockets. The expense that this operation would have entailed would have been astronomical.
All things considered, it is perhaps for the best that the United States decided to go cold on the idea of launching a nuclear attack on the Moon.