19 February 2008

Shooting Satellites and Starfish Prime

I've been reading about the proposed downing of the dying US satellite, but I don't understand all the brouhaha that appears to be upsetting everyone. I certainly don't want anyone hurt, but if we consider this whole event in the light of what happened in 1962, it is a minor issue. So what happened?

Operation Starfish Prime.


Doing research about a possible post on the original Telstar, I ran across information on Starfish Prime. A subset of the Operation Dominic series of nuclear tests in the early Sixties, Starfish Prime consisted of a single rocket and nuclear warhead exploded into the upper regions of the atmosphere. The resultant 1+ megaton blast lit up the skies for miles.

(Source: Archive.org and The Nuclear Vault->see below for link)

One of the staff involved in the testing said of the night skies:

"...The Hawaiian news media touted this high altitude nuclear test series as the "rainbow bombs" because of the spectacular auroral displays that had been visible from Hawaii. On the night of July 9, 1962 when Starfish Prime was scheduled, the hotels in Hawaii offered roof top bomb watching parties. It seemed that everyone in the Pacific hemisphere was watching the sky over Johnston Island and listening to April Weather...."
(Source: Wikipeda and Cecil Coale's page on Starfish Prime)

Some of the purposes of this test included:
  • effects on communication
  • missile killing characteristics
  • nuclear detection systems
  • surveillance capabilities after a nuclear blast

The launch vehicle for the tests was the Thor.

    (Source: Archive.org and The Nuclear Vault->see below for link)

    There were many other nuclear weapons tested that year in addition to this one. Try the links below for more detailed information. Have a great day!

    See you tomorrow!

    More details:

    Direct PDF link to results of Starfish Prime

    Operation Dominic I

    Archive.org movie overview on Operation Dominic
    (additional source: The Nuclear Vault)

    Atomic Veteran's History Project

    Wikipedia entry: Starfish Prime

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