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  1961 Atom bomb near-miss: space history effects

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Author Topic:   1961 Atom bomb near-miss: space history effects
dom
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posted 09-21-2013 04:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Apart from the natural and human catastrophe this near accidental detonation of a nuclear bomb in America in 1961 would have caused, I wonder if it would have seriously altered the history of spaceflight in the 1960s?
A secret document, published in declassified form for the first time by the Guardian today, reveals that the US Air Force came dramatically close to detonating an atom bomb over North Carolina that would have been 260 times more powerful than the device that devastated Hiroshima.

The document, obtained by the investigative journalist Eric Schlosser under the Freedom of Information Act, gives the first conclusive evidence that the US was narrowly spared a disaster of monumental proportions when two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on 23 January 1961. The bombs fell to earth after a B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air, and one of the devices behaved precisely as a nuclear weapon was designed to behave in warfare: its parachute opened, its trigger mechanisms engaged, and only one low-voltage switch prevented untold carnage.

Despite the fact that an America desperately coping with the clean-up wouldn't have had the money to spend on Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, etc., one also wonders if the US public would have been as enthusiastic about high-technology projects involving missiles and rockets? Discuss!

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