There has been much tabloid interest in what is a re-release of the revelation, originally made by the protect’s leader Leonard Reiffel in 2000, that the US Air Force had once considered launching a rocket to explode an atom bomb on the surface of the moon.
The plan which was part of Project A119 “A study of Lunar Research Flights” was thought up in the late 1950s as a “shot across the bows” of the Soviet Union as as morale booster for the US general public, after the Soviet Sputnik satellite launch in 1957. It was also rumoured that the Soviet Union was planning a similar “demonstration” featuring a nuclear explosion’s flash being visible from Earth.
The decision was made early on to use an atomic bomb rather than a thermonuclear hydrogen bomb as the latter type was deamed too heavy for the launch vehicles at the time. The famous astrophysicist, Carl Sagan, who was then a young researcher, was part of the team predicting the effects of the bomb’s explosion on lunar dust.
In the end the plan was dropped as being too dangerous given that launch vehicle reliability was very poor at the time.