The United States astronauts who have walked on the moon throughout history almost never got the opportunity.
After Russia put the first Sputnik into orbit in 1957 to take the early lead in the space race, the U.S. considered a plan of detonating a nuclear bomb on the moon.
According to a report obtained by CNN that had been declassified years ago, the top-secret plan was developed by the Air Force during the Cold War. Physicist Leonard Reiffel, who wrote the report, said reasons for nuking the moon were “scientific, military and political."
The plan was to “send a message" to the Soviets. Air Force has not commented on the report, according to CBS DC.
Under the plan known as "A Study of Lunar Research Flights," or "Project A119," a missile carrying an atom bomb would travel 238,000 miles to the moon from an undisclosed launching spot, and detonate upon impact, according to Mail Online. The idea was abandoned by military officials because of potential dangers to people on Earth if the mission was unsuccessful.
Noted astronomer Carl Sagan calculated the actions of dust and gas that would be generated by the explosion. Reports say Sagan may have committed a security breach when he revealed the plan in an academic fellowship application in 1959. He died in 1996.
Documents about the classified plan were not released until 2000, according to Oneindia News. "Thankfully, the thinking changed,” Reiffel, now 85, said. “I am horrified that such a gesture to sway public opinion was ever considered.”
The mission to nuke the moon would have taken place in 1959.