The United States Nearly Nuked the Moon.

The heights of the cold war bred a national consciousness of fear, paranoia and testosterone-fuelled desperation in both the United States and the Soviet Union.

The back and forth between the two superpowers for world power and advantage drove the two nations to extreme measures, some of which we are only learning in about in detail today.

Landing on the moon, the crowning achievement of the United States in space was actually a contingency plan, while plan A was, and still is, something out of a B grade science fiction movie. 

Sputnik, the first satellite launched into space in 1957 was a near death-blow for the U.S. who went into code red in retaliation to the display of Russian technological superiority.  

The Russian satellite Sputnik in 1957

This event was an unforeseen instance of the Russians getting the upper hand over the Americans who had always held the cards in relation to technological advances in space exploration. 

"We'd always been the big kids in science and technology, the people who had invented new and innovative things. All of a sudden the Soviets had beaten us into space." - Dr Vincent Houghton, historian and curator of the International Spy Museum.

In the true American style of macho bravado, America devised a plan to blow the Russians out of the water, or indeed the moon from the sky...

And so the wheels of project A119 begun to turn, which was titled: A Study of Lunar Research Flights.

Deceiving title, to say the least...

The payload the United States wanted to drop on the Moon.

The ambitious and near-sighted mission was to create a mushroom cloud so large it would be clearly visible from anywhere on earth. 

The rationale was that all of mankind would stare in awe of the clear militaristic and technological superiority of the U.S.

The plan was kept confidential to negate the outcry of the populace in retaliation to the ludicrous nature of the plan, but even within the team responsible, there was dissent.

Sputnik was so terrifying some scientists were willing to nuke the moon as it was seen as 'big enough' to withstand the hit while others voiced that the moon was an invaluable resource of studying our place in the universe.

The reason the nuke never fired?

 At the height of the old war, the United States almost sent a nuclear warhead to the moon.

Not because of the potential natural repercussions or the outcry from hundreds of millions around the globe, but because of money and flat out not having the understanding of how to send the payload that far. 

The historical declassification of Project A119 is a telling tale in the use of scare tactics in foreign relations and how far nations will go for the sake of posturing. 

Even today, military intelligence agencies around the world use innovative ways to stifle others for the sake of national prestige and leverage.

Let Project A119 be a lesson to us all.

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