After the success of the Soviet Union launching its Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in history, on October 4, 1957, the United States performed an eccentric maneuver to record his people that they were not losing the space race.
For that they began to seek financing for a crazy project: the A119.
In order to boost the morale of the American population, the Air Force devised the strange plan to launch a nuclear bomb on the Moon. The initiative was called Project A119.
Under the name of Study on the scientific flights to the Moon, Project A119 wanted to use a bomb with similar characteristics to the one that was dropped on the city of Hiroshima a few years earlier. They determined that it should be a relatively low-yield pump (1.7 kilitons). A team of 10 people headed by Leonard Reiffel They were responsible for studying the potential and feasibility of the possible explosion.
To get an idea of the detonation ratios, the bomb Little boy launched on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945 had a yield of 13-18 kilotons. The W25 would be carried by a rocket towards the dark side of the Moon, where it would detonate on impact. The dust cloud resulting from the explosion would be illuminated by the Sun and, therefore, visible from Earth. According to Reiffel, the progress of the Air Force in the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles would have made that launch possible in 1959.
The most surprising thing, however, is that Carl Sagan He was part of the team responsible for investigating the theoretical effects of a nuclear explosion at a low level of gravity.
The explosion would be seen as a spectacle attended by millions of people who contemplated the Moon at the time of the detonation. Like a really expensive pyrotechnic show.
The Project went a long way, but fortunately it ran out of funding, canceling in 1959 for fear of a negative reaction from the world population, later changing the target for the arrival on the Moon. In 1963 the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and in 1967 Outer Space Treaty to avoid other signs of power like this in the future.