America’s Plot To Nuke The Moon

“Shoot a nuke down a bug hole, you got a lot of dead bugs.” —Ace Levy, Starship Troopers

In A Nutshell

At the height of the Cold War, the United States Air Force considered a plan to detonate a nuclear weapon on the surface of the moon. The project was deemed too risky and kept top secret for over 40 years, eventually coming to light in 2000, when former NASA executive Leonard Reiffel provided details of the plot.

The Whole Bushel

The Space Race was an important part of the Cold War, the two superpowers of the USSR and the USA competing to become the first to discover the mysteries of the universe. In 1957, the Soviets took a commanding lead when they put the Sputnik satellite in orbit around the Earth. Not to be outdone, the Americans developed Project A119, “A Study of Lunar Research Flights,” a gambit to explode a nuclear weapon on the surface of the Moon.

The US Air Force commissioned NASA to crunch the numbers, a research project helmed by executive Leonard Reiffel. Young astronomer Carl Sagan was also on the project. Indeed it was Sagan’s rather loose method of keeping national secrets that led to the public recognition of the project. While researching a biography on Sagan, a writer named Keay Davidson reviewed Sagan’s scholarship application for the University of California Berkley’s Miller Institute. Bizarrely enough, the late Sagan provided highly classified details about his involvement of the project. When the 1999 book Carl Sagan: A Life was published detailing the plan, Reiffel emerged to set the story straight, claiming that “the foremost intent was to impress the world with the prowess of the United States,” and “It was a PR device, without question, in the minds of the people from the Air Force.”

The bomb used would have been small, around the same size as the one used on Hiroshima. The explosion would have been visible from the surface of Earth and would have made a serious statement about the capability of the US. However, the risks involved in the launch, as well as the possibility of creating nuclear fallout on the Moon and halting the chances of manned lunar exploration, caused NASA and the Air Force to scrap their plans. Due to the Freedom of Information Act, the plans were eventually made public, though the Air Force denies any involvement with the ill-fated Project A119, even to this day.

Show Me The Proof

US planned one big nuclear blast for mankind
U.S. Planned Nuclear Blast On the Moon, Physicist Says
A Study of Lunar Research Flights, Vol. 1

  • Atticus

    American prowess? The statements America needs to make should not be with tyrannical might but with intellectual wisdom. Only time will tell.

    • Joseph

      I don’t think you know what the word prowess means.

    • Timothy53

      And it seems that that is exactly all that happened.

  • Timothy53

    No nuke was sent to the moon. Someone came up with a hairbrained idea and it was effectively shot down.

    Bottom line: Nothing happened.

    Move along, nothing to see here.

    • Tom Johnson

      It’s pretty obvious that the idea got a lot farther than merely being immediately shot down.

  • MissKingdomVII

    Yes blow up the moon! Genius idea! WTF lol!

  • Jack

    Another US hair brained scheme: When they found out wher Bin Laden was hiding, they came up with ways if dealing with him. One of the proposed ideas was to have special forces surround his house and set up loudspeakers. These loudspeakers would then play a message saying: ‘Osama, this is Allah, come out of the house’.


    • Glocca Morra

      lol link please. Couldn’t find anything on this

      • Mikey Godsey

        Because it’s bullshit. It sounds like he took what actually happened on Grenada and substituted Marines with SpecOps, Hudson Austin with Osama Bin Laden, and Grenada with Pakistan.

        • Tom Johnson

          Actually wasn’t it in Panama, imploring Noriega to come out of a church?

          • Mikey Godsey

            They’ve done it more than once. They used it in Panama, Grenada, and a few other places. It’s actully outlawed by the Geneva convention I believe, as it amounts to torture but it’s been used multiple times.

  • bob mcbobberson

    if the launch failed they could have effectively launched a dirty bomb into our own atmosphere. I think that was the main drawback of the plan.

  • Sheila
  • norse of Melbourne

    if someone blows up the Moon with a nuclear device, will the cheese be safe to eat? =P

  • Lino

    I hate america soo much for exacly this reason….. fucking power-abusing country

  • pronto

    I wonder if this plan inspired the TV show Space:1999? The show debuted back in the early 70s while the Sagan book did not come out until,ironically enough,1999. Still & all rumors might have been floating about back when the TV series was being created.