When thinking of the United States’ history with atomic bombs, most recall the first dropped on Hiroshima. The bomb called, “Little Boy,” killed around 80,000 people instantly.
In order for the U.S. to create and fully understand atomic bombs, they had to test them.
So, how many nuclear bombs has the United States tested?
According to the Science Applications International Corporation, The U.S. tested 1032 nuclear bombs between the years 1945 and 1992.
Not only is the number surprising, but so are the places they were detonated. Several bombs were tested underwater, in the atmosphere and even in space.
In August 1958, a classified nuclear test mission had the United States military detonating nuclear bombs above the earth’s atmosphere.
While the deadly attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were credited for helping end World War II, the United States didn’t stop testing after the two atomic bombs were dropped. When the Soviet Union developed nuclear weapons, the U.S. military actually increased testing.
Most of the tests were accounted for, but not the one that happened this week in 1958. It was classified until 1982.
The idea behind the classified test was to see if nuclear radiation in the earth’s magnetic field could create its own artificial radiation belt. The project was called “Operation Argus,” named after a Greek guardian.
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The idea was pioneered by Greek physicist Nicholas Christofilos. He believed a radiation belt above the atmosphere could knock out Soviet radar and radar signals, disarm Soviet nuclear war heads and destroy any orbiting space crews. Essentially, the U.S. military wanted to create a shield against a Soviet nuclear attack.