A defunct US Defense Program proposed nuking the moon to mine lightweight metals

It never came close to doing this.
Ameya Paleja
The photo credit line may appear like thisPaul Campbell/iStock

In what would be a befitting tale for a Hollywood movie, a former U.S. Defense program proposed nuking the moon to reach its center in search of lightweight metals. Documents now made available to The Vice revealed that the program also discussed traveling wormholes and gravitational wave communication, which are very much a part of science fiction today. 

The Defense Program in the spotlight is the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), which was secretively functional between 2007 and 2012. It has been of interest to those seeking information about extra-terrestrial life forms.

When the program's director resigned from the Pentagon in 2017, he made several public videos of unidentified aircraft moving in non-conventional ways. With little other information available about the program, the AATIP became synonymous with studying unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Still, newly released documents show that the program's scope included much more. 

Secret documents made public after four years

After the existence of AATIP came to light, The Vice filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to know more about the program. After a prolonged wait of over four years, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has now released a tranche of over 1,600 pages of documents. The documents revealed that the AATIP was given a $10 million purse in its first year to ponder a wide spectrum of "advanced technologies" that sound like coming straight out of science fiction. 

An initial assessment of these documents shows that the program studied whether wormholes could be traversed, high-frequency gravitational waves for communication purposes, antigravity devices, negative energy, warp drives, and manipulation of dimensions. Among its more realistic discussions were developing invisibility cloaks and mining the moon in search of lightweight metals. 

Debating viability of futuristic concepts

Among the documents released to The Vice are dozens of Defense Intelligence Reference Documents (DIRDs) that discuss the viability of these concepts. While the names of the authors on these reports have been redacted, the reports debate the advantages of technologies and impracticalities in implementing them. 

The DIRD report on invisibility cloaking highlights that "perfect cloaking devices are impossible because they require materials where the speed of light approaches infinity", Science Alert reported.

Although we recently reported lightweight invisibility shields were now available, the AATIP was likely looking for military-grade cloaks that would work under all scenarios. 

The search for the best of materials would have probably taken AATIP projects to the moon as well, looking for materials that were as strong as steel but over 100,000 times lighter. The authors suggested that such extremely lightweight metals would probably be present at the center of the moon and the way to reach them would be to tunnel through the lunar crust and mantle. The authors recommended the use of thermonuclear explosives to get the job done, a suggestion that has thankfully remained on paper. 

Vice has reported that it will analyze the documents in further detail and provide more information on what the program, which lacked an in-house research and development department, deliberated upon during its existence.

In case, you are eager to find out more yourself, the documents have been revealed publicly here

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