Beyond science fiction: Project A119

Carl Sagan popularised science

Did a laughing Carl Sagan really work on a US plan to bomb the moon?

Secret documents released after almost 45 years reveal that the USA was seriously considering exploding an atom bomb on the moon.

The US military allegedly developed a top-secret project called, “A Study of Lunar Research Flights” – or ‘Project A119’, hoping to intimidate their Soviet rivals with a display of America’s Cold War muscle, in a tit-for-tat riposte to the USSR’s having put the first man into space in October, 1957, and generally to boost American morale.

It seems they decided on an atom, rather than a hydrogen, bomb, because the latter would be too heavy for the missile delivering its payload over 240,000 miles. (Well, happy with that!)

Physicist Leonard Reiffel, who claims to have worked on the project, apparently worked alongside Carl Sagan, then a young astronomy graduate.

This demented project (if any of the above is true) was abandoned, it seems, because of “concerns” about contaminating the moon with radioactive material, and possible adverse  effects on humans beings – that’s you and me, or perhaps only the favoured few in a White House bunker.

The report I read notes that: “The US government has never formally confirmed its involvement in the study.”[1] It’s worth noting that this paper refers to an infamous UK tabloid as its source (another question, entirely)).[2]

It just makes you wonder, though; so much really mad stuff emerges, everywhere, from secret government files a generation later, it’s a wonder we are all still alive.

It also reminds me of the joke (told by Macedonians, themselves): The head of the Chinese Communist Party is informed that Macedonia has invaded China. Coolly, he turns to his personal aide, and asks: “And in which hotel are they staying?”

[1]: The Independent

[2]: The Sun

Image: Jet propulsion laboratory


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2 Responses to “Beyond science fiction: Project A119”

  1. jkmhoffman Says:

    Reblogged this on kjmhoffman.

  2. Phil Says:

    Is there any truth in this story, d’you know?

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