Any guesses to who once said that? Yup, you guessed it… The United States once planned to shoot a nuclear bomb at the moon for the sole reason of “Because We Can!”
The absolute ridiculous project was put into action during the 1950s by the U.S. Air Force and was ironically titled “A Study Of Lunar Research Flights.” Not really sure what type of research includes blowing something up beyond recognition! The project came about when the United States was trying to figure out ways to show the world it was a greater power than the Soviet Union. It wanted to be sure that the public saw them as winning the space race.
Why did shooting a nuclear warhead at the moon sound like a good idea? Mostly because it would have been very simple to arrange and easy to do. The head of the project physicist Leonard Reiffel advised that hitting the moon with a missile would have been quite effortless due to the target being so big.
Project A119 as it was called was a top-secret plan during the Cold War and despite the revelation of its existence by Reiffel, the United States government has never confirmed being part of the study. Apparently, it was put together under the pretext of answering some of the mysteries in astronomy, when really it was just to boost public morale and show the United States was capable of great power.
The thought was that the explosion would be so great it would be visible from Earth to the naked eye. Therefore, the target was the edge of the visible part of the moon, this would have caused a huge nuclear cloud being visibly illuminated by the sun.
Luckily for us, someone a little smarter thought that blowing up the moon may be seen negatively by the public and the project was scrapped in fear of public backlash. There was also the worry that this started the militarization of space, which would have had even more dire consequences. A space landing was seen as a much greater achievement and thankfully, they were right this time!