Long before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, the U.S. military had plans to build a surveillance system on the moon. They had even planned to test nuclear weapons on the lunar surface or in its vicinity. These facts were revealed by a newly declassified report, originally published in 1959, released on the 45th anniversary of Armstrong and Aldrin’s historic moonwalk.
U.S. Army and Air Force both lobbied to build outposts on the moon
Code-named “Project Horizon,” the report outlines Pentagon’s detailed plans to build a moon-to-Earth surveillance system that would have been used for the observation of Earth. The document running more than 100 pages revealed that even before the man landed on the moon, both the U.S. Air Force and Army lobbied to make outposts on the moon. It would have allowed the United States to launch offensives from the lunar surface toward the Earth and even in the outer space.
In April 1960, the ballistic missile division of the USAF produced a study, saying that the lunar base would become operational by June 1969. The idea of nuclear weapon testing on the moon was proposed by the USAF special weapons center at Kirkland, New Mexico. In fact, the Armor Research Foundation of the Illinois Institute of Technology carried out a study for the Air Force about the possibility of the lunar atomic weapon project. The study was conducted in June 1959, just eight months after NASA was formed in October 1958.
Testing N-weapons on moon would have served scientific and military purposes
The document justified nuclear testing on the moon’s surface would serve the scientific as well as military purposes. Such an exercise would also assess the capability of nuclear weapons for space warfare. But the USAF scrapped the plan owing to a variety of factors. Another report entitled “The Kidnapping of the Lunik” explains how the U.S. stole and later returned a USSR space capsule named the Lunik to collect intelligence on the Soviet Space capability.