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Moon The Military United States

Carl Sagan Was On US Team To Nuke the Moon 206

Posted by timothy
from the only-a-light-nuking-around-the-edges dept.
First time accepted submitter novakom writes "Apparently during the cold war, one fall-back position the U.S. was looking at to ensure mutual assured destruction was to put nukes on the moon. This would ensure that the U.S. could retaliate against even an effective first strike by the Russians. The first step, of course, would be to detonate a nuke on the moon. And yes, Carl Sagan was on the team (and apparently leaked the info!)"
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Carl Sagan Was On US Team To Nuke the Moon

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:33PM (#42135495)

    In what world does putting nukes on the moon require first detonating them on the moon? It would seem like that might make things harder.

  • by Eightbitgnosis (1571875) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:38PM (#42135559) Homepage
    Have faith that there are so many stupid people in so many positions that they kinda cancel each other out most of the time
  • That's crazy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:41PM (#42135595)

    ...but also kind of badass at the same time.

  • by Tynin (634655) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:46PM (#42135639)
    That would have been an amazing(ly terrifying) meeting between world leaders. Truman and Stalins exchange at the Potsdam conference might have gone quite quite differently. Or perhaps it was that conference that made Truman want to go to such lengths to put a nuke on the moon to show American might? Brinksmanship is such a strange game.
  • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:49PM (#42135669)

    What is stupid about it? At the time, the only true revenge weapon was the nuclear submarines, and the US in 1959 had just 5 of those.

    You need an if-all-else-fails weapon, otherwise you have to keep your nuclear forces on high alert at all times to avoid losing to a first strike. Staying at high alert risks launching by mistake.

  • by sribe (304414) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:53PM (#42135719)

    In what world does putting nukes on the moon require first detonating them on the moon? It would seem like that might make things harder.

    I think the summary was poorly worded. It's not the first step to getting them on the moon; it's the first to using them as a deterrent, after siting on the moon, because it would be proof positive to the Soviets that you had actually gotten working nukes onto the moon, as opposed to some kind non-functional decoy. (Ironically, decades later, Ronald Reagan used a non-functioning decoy (SDI) to wreck the Soviet economy and win the cold war...)

  • The Onion called (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @06:59PM (#42135789) Homepage Journal

    ...they want their story back.

  • by Pulzar (81031) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @07:04PM (#42135845)

    "MAD" was exactly what the prevention was about. If you have a system that's going to kill the opponent even after he kills you, then they will likely not try to kill you in the first place.

    If Russians felt, at any time, that a quick strike would take the US revenge capability, they'd be a lot more likely to strike than if they knew that moon nukes would be coming afterwards.

  • by ari_j (90255) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @07:32PM (#42136131)
    It's also proof of concept. If you can launch a nuclear missile from Earth and detonate it on or near the surface of the moon, particularly if you can get reasonably close to a specific position on the surface of the moon, then you can likely do the same in reverse. If you can't nuke the moon from Earth, then you can't nuke Earth from the moon.
  • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @08:40PM (#42136917) Journal

    ... If you can't nuke the moon from Earth, then you can't nuke Earth from the moon.

    Horse manure. Different size gravity wells.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Thursday November 29, 2012 @08:48PM (#42137013) Journal

    Uhhh...we had already seen how they work in space, so making the moon glow in the dark would make NO sense!

    My guess is its more likely an "Operation Plowshares" kind of deal, everyone forgets that once upon a time they thought you could use nukes like really really REALLY big dynamite, they even looked at making canals by using shaped nuke charges.

    Considering how many completely stupid things we did, what with the above ground tests and air bursts and water tests? Frankly we are lucky we aren't having to look at the moon as a new home, man we were REALLY stupid when it came to radiation back then. Of course back then our ships were filled with asbestos to cut down the risk of fires so long term thinking? REALLY not big back then.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Thursday November 29, 2012 @09:01PM (#42137141)

    It's much harder to get a nuke to the moon. You're climbing up the big gravity well and falling down the little one instead of vice versa. It took a Saturn V to get people to the moon and only a couple of puny boosters to get them back.

  • by cyn1c77 (928549) on Friday November 30, 2012 @12:31AM (#42138677)

    Uhhh...we had already seen how they work in space, so making the moon glow in the dark would make NO sense!

    My guess is its more likely an "Operation Plowshares" kind of deal, everyone forgets that once upon a time they thought you could use nukes like really really REALLY big dynamite, they even looked at making canals by using shaped nuke charges.

    Considering how many completely stupid things we did, what with the above ground tests and air bursts and water tests? Frankly we are lucky we aren't having to look at the moon as a new home, man we were REALLY stupid when it came to radiation back then. Of course back then our ships were filled with asbestos to cut down the risk of fires so long term thinking? REALLY not big back then.

    Hindsight is 20-20. Every generation thinks that the prior one made some really bad choices. You need to remember that the state of science back then was not what it was today and it not what it will be in the future.

    Do you really think that our kids won't be thinking the same thing 50 years from today about the Iraq/Afganistan war, TSA's terahertz detectors, burning hydrocarbons for fuel, smoking, etc...?

  • by Neil Boekend (1854906) on Friday November 30, 2012 @03:28AM (#42139247)
    You want the enemy to know you have nukes on the moon. That may prevent them from attacking in the first place. Most of the secrecy of the cold war was in
    - Finding out what the other had. That lets you know if you should worry.
    - Letting the other think you have more than you had. That makes them worry without you having to spend too much.
    If the Americans completed such a plan they would be damn sure the Russians would know it. At least a "mislaid document", probably a detonated nuke on the moon.
    "Let them know they wouldn't survive attacking us. That'll make them think twice."

    If the Americans found a way to make the Russians believe they had nukes on the moon without bringing them the Americans would have done it. The same effect, less expense.

Byte your tongue.

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