Shoot The Moon

When the histories are written, the Cold War will be considered one of the nuttier epochs of ur-humanhood. And perhaps mustered as Exhibit “A” shall be the brainshower of US military mavens that a nuclear weapon should be detonated on the Moon in order to “send a message” to the Soviet Union.

The United States Air Force was not created until 1947; by 1958 it was a confederacy of the criminally insane. It was in that year that USAF death doyens ordered doubledomes to produce plans for getting a nuke to the moon, and then there exploding it.

At the height of the space race, the U.S. considered detonating an atom bomb on the moon as a display of America’s Cold War muscle.

The secret project, innocuously titled ‘A Study of Lunar Research Flights’ and nicknamed ‘Project A119,’ was never carried out.

Under the scenario, a missile carrying a small nuclear device was to be launched from an undisclosed location and travel 238,000 miles to the moon, where it would be detonated upon impact.
Although one of the initial goals of the madness was to “boost the morale” of the American people, it was eventually decided that if the US government commenced bombing the Moon, the American people would proceed to lose their shit.
Similar unsaneness was rejected in the Soviet Union when it was determined that a lunar A-blast would not linger long enough to be captured on film.
When sending a rocket ship to the moon first became possible, Soviet scientists proposed setting off a nuclear blast there to show the world its scientific prowess.

“In 1958 there was a plan to send an atomic bomb to the moon, so that astronomers across the world could photograph its explosion on film,” said Boris Chertok, 87, a leading rocket scientist from the earliest days of the Soviet space programme.

“That way no one would have doubted that the Soviet Union was capable of landing on the surface of the moon,” he said in an interview. “But the idea was rejected as physicists decided the flash would be so short lived because of the lack of an atmosphere on the moon that it might not register on film.”

Yet another lesson in why Bad Toys should be kept away from boys. It was not enough that the US had “sent a message” to the Soviet Union by incinerating several hundred thousand Japanese; to make absolutely sure the message was received, it was also considered necessary to start heaving nukes at celestial orbs.

Regular humans did not learn until decades later that in the 1950s the US and USSR were competing to transform the Moon into a glow-tomb. What rough beasts are today slouching around the brainpans of shoulder-boarded simians? Stay tuned.

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7 Responses to “Shoot The Moon”


  1. 1 Comrade Red November 27, 2012 at 10:42 am

    If only the design people had been able to fit a template to the moon-gadget so that the explosion would produce a cloud in the special shape! Special shape? Yes indeed – the idea was to use the moon to advertize “coke” or “camels” or whatever. Trouble was that nothing could stand up to the blast. Oh, no, wait! They did find a way to shield the blast, but it’s secret. No kidding! They were going to go to mars with a “ship” that was powered by a series of hundreds of gadgets going off just a few yards from the ship – tossed out like coke cans that’d go “bang!” that’s where the special protective coating got discovered and made secret. (hint – it’s a layer’d coating of plastic and grease…) Most “secrets” are public…sorry! Gives new meaning to “blast off!” weeeee!!! The ship was to mass 10,000 tons and take off with a 0.5 kt bang from yucca flats. No kidding… Ain’t Capitalism Great!

    • 2 bluenred November 27, 2012 at 11:56 am

      Quaint, those old days. Now they’re into personalized advertising, so that billboards screech messages just for you, as you walk by. Soon they will be running personalized ad crawls at the bottom of the retina, as in Stephenson’s Diamond Age.

  2. 3 Comrade Red November 28, 2012 at 7:34 am

    a serious question – how are these infernal machines “weapons”? what are the defining qualities that make a thing a “weapon”? Does a gadget that incinerates a city qualify as a weapon? Some might say that weapons are focused – like a rifle or a sword. If that’s an essential quality, then, whatever they are, they ain’t weapons. Looking deeper, by making defense impossible (it is), these infernal machines made the fundamental contract between citizen and state impossible – thus eliminating the function, but not the structure, of the state. what is left is simply an animated zombie, the nth state as walking dead. No wonder it’s eating it’s children…

    • 4 bluenred November 28, 2012 at 8:31 am

      They’re weapons because they kill people and destroy things.

      • 5 Comrade Red November 28, 2012 at 1:52 pm

        Well, ok, but this seems to me to be like saying that suicide is murder – quoting from wiki ” In a broader context, weapons may be construed to include anything used to gain a strategic, material or mental advantage over an adversary” – and bearing in mind that the basic iterations of these infernal machines are technically trivial – anybody that wants one has one – it’s hard to see how they are anything but suicide machines – I think it’s dangerous and misleading to call these things “weapons” – as they cannot be “construed to include [be] anything used to gain a strategic, material or mental advantage over an adversary” – mutual suicide conveys, presumably, zero advantage. But, moving on, I take it that the idea that these machines made the citizen-state contract impossible and thus made the state a zombie available for manipulation is unchallenged, agreed with? I think that’s obvious, but few others seem to.

        • 6 bluenred November 29, 2012 at 12:26 am

          As you know, there have been plenty of nutters who true-believed that nuclear weapons could “gain a strategic, material or mental advantage over an adversary.”

          But your point that such devices are, at root, suicide machines, is valid.

          As for “the citizen-state contract,” that is, most times, in most times, a chimera.

          Which is why humans eternally recurrently seek to renegotiate it.

          And why anarchists (the true crew, not the bust-the-windows-in-the-street dilettantes) do not recognize a state, with which to contract. There are only free human beings, alive on this earth.

  3. 7 Comrade Red December 1, 2012 at 11:45 am

    after szilard thought of the gadget (in ’33) it became inevitable that defense would become impossible and thus the state, unable to protect anybody, inevitably changed from protector to custodian – a polite term for “jailer”. further, in order to protect the state itself, both privacy and a plurality of sovereigns became intolerable. this was obvious in 1960. at least it was obvious to some people. seen that way the present day real politik policy of the large states seems pretty reasonable. not nice. reasonable. logical. there does not seem to be a place for humanity or morals in such a situation. this is unique in history and, some might say, suggests that we shall see some surprises,,,morals are largely genetic in source – so we have made a world where there’s no place for people, except sociopaths and “droolers”, jim-crow shills, and crooks.


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