Project A119 – Moon: To drop nuclear bombs on Zabili..

-Galla S Kiran Kumar,Bureau Chief Telagana (Andhra Pradesh)

With the success of Chandrayaan-3 launched by India, Zabili is attracting interest among all. Chandama’s stories are coming out one by one. Most of them are unknown to the world.

Less than six decades ago, the superpowers’ mischief
finally retreated


With the success of Chandrayaan-3 launched by India, Zabili is attracting interest among all. Chandama’s stories are coming out one by one. Most of them are unknown to the world. The same superpowers, America and Soviet Union… have an evil plan to drop nuclear bombs on Chandamama! The details of the highly classified US project were then unexpectedly revealed.  

It was a time when the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was in full swing. Both countries already possess nuclear and hydrogen bombs. Later attention was turned towards space. The Soviet Union was in the forefront in this regard. In October 1957, Sputnik-1, the first artificial satellite, was launched into orbit. America was shocked by this. The superpower felt that they were lagging behind in the space race. In December of the same year, it attempted to launch an autonomous satellite named ‘Project Vanguard’. But it exploded along with the rocket during the launch. America’s reputation is tarnished. So she thought to do something miraculous to save her reputation. Seeing that, the Soviet Union was shocked and the world was shocked.

Responsible for the rifle

To revive the tarnished reputation, the American space research agency-NASA and the country’s air force have come up with a subversive idea. Its essence was to launch an atomic bomb on the moon. When a nuclear test is conducted on Earth, a cloud of dust and flames rises up in the shape of a mushroom with dazzling light. The US Air Force predicts that such an outcome will occur even when it descends on Chandama. It came to the analysis that all the people on earth can see that ‘miracle’ with ordinary eyes without the help of any tools. It thought it would suit America well in the space race. In 1958, eminent nuclear physicist Leonard Riffle was tasked with investigating the feasibility of this radical idea. Mainly some questions were put before him. They are..

1. What would happen if an atomic bomb was dropped on the moon?
2. Will doing this cause damage to Jabilly?  
3. Will the eruption be visible from Earth?

How to change the name..

Riffle misleadingly titled his reports ‘A Study of Lunar Research Flights’ to avoid leaks. It looked like a scientific research paper. It was also given the code name ‘Project A119’.

Random leak

The details of ‘Project 119’ came out by chance. Carl Sagan, a member of this group, applied for a fellowship at the University of California in 1959. He mentioned something about ‘Project A119’ in his biodata. The varsity authorities did not pay much attention to that matter at that time. Segan’s biographer identified this in the 1990s. When he searched deeply about it, the details of the project came to light. At that stage Riffle also opened his mouth a little on this.

Step back after receiving the report

The Rifle team submitted the final plan to the US Air Force in June 1959. Even though this committee suggested that a hydrogen bomb could be detonated against Jabilli, the Air Force superiors did not dare to take the initiative. The reasons for this have not been disclosed. But the analysis of scientists on this is as follows..

1. It may be thought that this experiment may not be of much use. It would have been noted that the absence of air on the moon would not have formed a mushroom-like shape with the dust cloud during the explosion.
2. If a rocket carrying a hydrogen bomb explodes in the earth’s atmosphere before touching the moon, it may have been concluded that it is dangerous.  
3. The radioactivity caused by the eruption may have changed the composition of the Moon’s elements.

Together with Hemahemi..

Leonard Riffle established a research center at the Armor Research Foundation in Chicago with 10 experts to examine the possibility of a nuclear explosion on Zabilli. The team included luminaries such as Gerard Kuiper and science philosopher Carl Sagan. Kuiper is known as the father of modern planetary science. The Kuiper Belt, a belt of icy rocks in the Solar System, is named after him.

The rifle team focused on different topics. Under pressure from the Air Force to speed up the project, it submitted several reports between May 1958 and January 1959. It made some suggestions.  

  • A nuclear detonation on Jabilli is possible.
  • A hydrogen bomb should be used for this experiment. It was many times more powerful than the bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.  
  • The explosion should take place at the ‘terminator line’, the boundary between the dark and light parts of the moon. This makes the explosion appear brighter.
  • NASA will have to send three instruments to the moon before the blast. They will collect data on the moon’s temperatures and elements before, during, and after the explosion.
  • Chandamama is located at a distance of 3.86 lakh kilometers from Earth. America’s strategy for delivering a hydrogen bomb there has not been revealed specifically. Experts are analyzing that they may have thought of carrying out this experiment through an intercontinental ballistic missile. It is noteworthy here that around the same time (in February 1959) America tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile ‘Titan’.

Even the Soviets..

The Soviet Union also thought of detonating a nuclear weapon on the moon. It was given the code name ‘Project E4’. It was to be implemented in 1959. The attempt was stopped when permission was not received from the government officials.