Nuke the Moon: 5 Certifiably Insane Cold War Projects
The upcoming movie The Men Who Stare at Goats tells the story of a military operation that attempted to create Jedi warriors who could teleport through walls and kill goats by staring at them. It all sounds pretty far-fetched ... until you realize that it's based on a true story, and it's just one of many bizarre operations Cold War-era militaries pursued seriously.
See, the Cold War was never really about physical combat. It was more like telling stories around a campfire: Whoever had the scariest idea, wins. And killing goats with your eyes was just the tip of the pant-crappingly crazy iceberg.
In the years before the first lunar landing, the United States was lagging behind a bit in the space race. The Soviets had both the first satellite and the first human being in space, while the United States had two thumbs and an asshole and that was about it. The U.S. realized that it would need something truly grand to one-up Captain Pinko and his Kosmonaut Armada, and that turned out to be the moon landing. But the lunar landing was the second draft of the plan; the first draft, as usual, was a bit nukier.
A whole lot nukier, actually.
Project A119 was a plan to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile at the Terminator, which is what John Connor would have done if "teaching it how to love" didn't play out in T2. Wait, sorry--the "Terminator" in this case refers to the dividing line between the dark and light side of the moon.
A large explosion on the Terminator line would put the sun behind the mushroom cloud, making the explosion visible with the naked eye from Earth. Presumably this is because the scientists in question were using prison logic: If you don't want to end up somebody's man-wife, you gotta kill the first random guy you see and make everybody else think you're crazy.
"You wanna survive in space? You gotta nuke something on the first day or else become Saturn's bitch."
The entire project was classified, of course, so it was given a slightly more innocuous sounding name than Project Nuke-A-Moon. They decided to call it "A Study of Lunar Research Flights," which may have been going a bit too far; that's like calling a serial rapist a "Can-do Casanova."
Fortunately, the United States came down off their explosion high and realized that nuking an orbiting planetary body for no particular reason might cross the line between "illustrating our technical prowess" and "cartoonish supervillainy," so they scrapped the plan and sent Armstrong up to land on the bastard instead. Think about that for a second: Neil Armstrong is considered a valid replacement for a nuclear missile.
"The name's Armstrong, but friends call me A-Bomb."
The Americans didn't have the market cornered on psychotic R and D. On the other side of the Atlantic, the British had just put the finishing touches on their new nuclear bomb. Weighing in at seven tons, the Blue Peacock was a tactical nuclear device capable of a 10-kiloton explosion--just slightly less than that of Little Boy, the first nuke ever detonated.
So why the downgrade? Isn't the point of explosions to make them bigger and bigger until everybody forgets how small your penis is?
"Who's impotent now, car?!"
Well, the British needed a new and novel defense in case the Soviets came over the border of East Germany and so, instead of dropping the bomb from a plane, they decided to put the nukes in the ground. Nuclear landmines!
For safety's sake, each bomb came with a 10-second fuse, and while that's not long enough to disarm the bomb or get away to safety, it is probably long enough for the victim to repent a life's worth of regrets, chief amongst them being their tendency to frolic in German fields.
"The hiiills are alllliiiive with the sound o- AAUUGH OH GOD WHAT'S THAT LIGHT?! WHY HAVE MY HANDS FUSED TOGETHER!?"
The bombs did have one major flaw, however: Burying anything in the ground during the winter would make it susceptible to intense cold, which could possibly affect the electronics. So the folks back in research and development started brainstorming:
"We could wrap it in blankets!" said one brilliant scientist.
"How about fiberglass insulation?" offered another.
"Why not just install a heater?" asked one sane and competent man.
"I like chicken!" screamed a random passing retard, completely unrelated to the science division in any way.
Guess which one they went with?
The chickens. The idea was they would be given enough food and water to stay alive for about a week, and the then their body heat would (somehow) keep the bomb's electronics defrosted enough to function.
In the long run, the project was canceled because the top brass thought that it wasn't politically savvy to plant nukes in Allied territory, or at least that was the official story.
But we all know it was probably those pussies at PETA again, having some sort of "moral objection" to underground nuclear-armed chicken prisons.
In order of plausibility, the term Stargate refers to:
A.) A TV series about what would happen if MacGyver fought space aliens.
B.) A military undertaking that used psychics as intelligence gatherers.
Over the course of 20 years, (and 20-million dollars) the U.S. Army employed no less than 22 full-time psychics. This all started when command heard rumors back in the 70s that the Soviets were using psychics for military intelligence and, rather than chalking it up to Vodka and Babel-fish quality translation, they decided to run with the idea as well.
The idea was to use said psychics for something called "remote viewing," which is the ability to telepathically see information about distant locations. Or, more accurately, it is the ability to lie about seeing information about distant locations while holding your hands to your temples and wearing a sequined shirt.
To test their psychics, the military placed them in a room all alone and gave them a set of coordinates; the psychics would tell the military what resided at those locations and then satellites would confirm or deny the predictions. One psychic viewer, Pat Price, said that he could clearly see a military base at his location, and that the base had a crane. Aaaand that was enough for the military!
Rather than assuming this "psychic" might have guessed that the military was interested in military-related places like military bases, and that they probably needed cranes to lift their heavy things, they gave Mr. Price the benefit of the doubt and subsequently used that precedent to justify appropriating government funds in order to pay for magic shows.
Pat's actual drawing of the crane, which he probably saw on his way into the same base where he took the test.
If a psychic was wrong (which--surprise!--happened a lot) the official policy was not to tell them, because it might lower their morale. Who knew the U.S. Military had an official policy about hurt feelings, and further that said policy was to avoid them at all costs?
But they did question at least one prediction: That crane at the Russian military base. They asked Pat why he didn't see a set of oil derricks as well, and Pat responded that the oil derricks were disassembled. The agents got a satellite to take some new, updated pictures of the base just to give Price the benefit of the doubt, and found that the derricks were indeed still there.
So he gave vague information that anybody could have guessed at, got the only verifiable answer wrong, and still kept his job for 20 years? Yeah, that sounds about right for a federal employee.
The United States just plain doesn't like Cuba. And it's easy to see why: It just hangs out down there, suspiciously close to Florida's personal space, looking like it's about to reach out and touch America's Dong at any minute. That just doesn't sit right with us, man.
From 1962 to 1964, the CIA compiled an exhaustive collection of plans to help topple Cuba. Aside from the obvious "country-wide wedgies" and the sinister "tell South America they've been talkin' shit," there were far more disturbing ideas under consideration.
One of the most prominent plans was Operation Northwoods, a proposal to create terrorism on American soil, blame it on Cuba and thus give the U.S. a reason to bomb the living shit out of Castro.
There are nine separate, documented suggestions for home-grown terrorism plots, and they range from blowing up an American ship in Guantanamo Bay, to sinking a boatload of Cuban immigrants en route to Florida. One instance even proposed that John Glenn's rocket should "mysteriously" explode shortly after launch, and that the entire incident be blamed on Cuba. This was probably scrapped when they remembered the memo from Project A119 that implied all astronauts were walking atomic weapons.
"Them cats we fuckin' with put bombs in your mom's gas tank" - Official report advising against attacking Glenn by the esteemed Professor B.I.G.
We should also reiterate at this point that these were not fringe groups we're talking about: The entire operation was approved by all the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Nobody saw a problem with it--except President Kennedy, who thankfully realized the implications of Northwood (i.e. that punching yourself in the face as an excuse to punch somebody else in the face was not a valid military strategy) and ultimately rejected it. Most of the documents involving Operation Northwoods were de-classified in 1997, and are now serving out their life-sentences as conspiracy theorist porn all across the Internet.
In 1959, the U.S. Army began looking into the possibility of putting a military base on the Moon. And hey, that's not too crazy, right? We're still trying to do that now, aren't we? It sounds perfectly reasonable... until you realize that this was 10 years before we even landed on the Moon.
That's not just putting the cart before the horse; that's putting the cart before the horse, executing the horse, then launching the cart into space so that no future horse will ever hope to see it again.
Pictured: The actual report's depiction of the $6-million base. Not pictured: Any feasible way of accomplishing this.
And the base wasn't even meant for scientific advancement or as a launching point to further explore space: It was specifically and solely to prove that we were the rightful owners of the Moon. That's right: In the year 1959, the United States of America nearly sunk $6-million dollars trying to steal the Moon itself.
But as an even further "fuck you" to a world that probably already got the point (about the fucking) the base itself would also house portable nukes and be surrounded by landmines. What, exactly, was that going to prevent? Was there a serious danger that other countries--who had also never set foot on the planetoid--suddenly just would decide to "go to the Moon" and, once there, "run really fast at the Moon base" so that they might be stopped by landmines?
The brilliant masterminds behind Project Horizon.
Finally, the entire project was supposed to be constructed by exactly two--count them, TWO men--who would assemble the 220 tons of equipment that would be needed for the project.
It takes an average of eight dudes a solid calendar year to build one shelving unit from IKEA, and we were expecting two guys to hand-assemble a giant functioning nuclear base in 1/4 Earth's gravity on a celestial body which no human being had ever previously set foot on?
If the men in question weren't astronauts, we would question the feasibility of that situation. But we all know that if you can't afford millions of dollars of advanced technology, you can always just sub one astronaut and wait for the success to roll in.
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For more military insanity, check out 7 WTF Military Weapons You Won't Believe They Actually Built and The 10 Most Bizarre Military Experiments.
And stop by our Top Picks to see the office building's Project Horizon defense set-up.