In an exclusive interview with The Observer, Dr Leonard Reiffel, 73, the physicist who fronted the project in the late Fifties at the US military-backed Armour Research Foundation, revealed America's extraordinary lunar plan. The Air Force wanted a mushroom cloud so large it would be visible on earth,' he said yesterday.
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Although he believes the blast would have had little environmental impact on Earth, its crater may have ruined the face of the 'man in the moon'. Reiffel would not reveal how the explosion would have taken place. But he confirmed it was 'certainly technically feasible' and that at the time an intercontinental ballistic nuclear missile would have been capable of hitting a target on the moon with an accuracy of within two miles. Reiffel was approached by senior US Air Force officers in , who asked him to 'fast-track' a project to investigate the visibility and effects of a nuclear explosion on the moon.
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Many Cold War documents are still classified in the US, but details of Project A emerged after a biography of celebrated US scientist and astronomer Carl Sagan was published there last year. Sagan, who died in , was famous for popularising science in the US and pioneering the study of potential life on other planets. At the Armour Foundation in Chicago - now called the Illinois Institute of Technology Research - he was hired by Reiffel to undertake mathematical modelling on the expansion of an exploding dust cloud in the space around the moon.
This was key to calculating the visibility of such a cloud from the Earth. At the time scientists still believed there might be microbial life on the moon and Sagan had suggested a nuclear explosion might be used to detect organisms. Visit Nuclear Blastand know more best discounts near to you. Shop now! No voucher code,promo code and discount code needed to be applied. You can choose any items you like listed on the offer page.
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