an exercise in miscellany

Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

Operation Argus

In history, operations and projects on May 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Operation Argus was a series of nuclear weapons tests and missile tests secretly conducted during August and September 1958 over the South Atlantic Ocean by the United States’ Defense Nuclear Agency, in conjunction with the Explorer 4 space mission. Operation Argus was conducted between the nuclear test series Operation Hardtack I and Operation Hardtack II. Contractors from Lockheed Aircraft Corporation as well as a few personnel and contractors from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission were on hand as well. The time frame for Argus was substantially expedited due to the instability of the political environment, i.e. forthcoming bans on atmospheric and exoatmospheric testing. Consequently, the tests were conducted within a mere half year of conception (whereas “normal” testing took one to two years).

via Operation Argus

List of Artificial Radiation Belts

In history, science & nature on May 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Artificial radiation belts are radiation belts that have been created by high altitude nuclear explosions.

List of Artificial Radiation Belts
Explosion Location Date Yield (approximate) Altitude (km) Nation of Origin
Hardtack Teak Johnston Island (Pacific) 1958-08-01 3.8 megatons 76.8 United States
Hardtack Orange Johnston Island (Pacific) 1958-08-12 3.8 megatons 43 United States
Argus I South Atlantic 1958-08-27 1-2 kilotons 200 United States
Argus II South Atlantic 1958-08-30 1-2 kilotons 256 United States
Argus III South Atlantic 1958-09-06 1-2 kilotons 539 United States
Starfish Prime Johnston Island (Pacific) 1962-07-09 1.4 megatons 400 United States
K-3 Kazakhstan 1962-10-22 300 kilotons 290 USSR
K-4 Kazakhstan 1962-10-28 300 kilotons 150 USSR
K-5 Kazakhstan 1962-11-01 300 kilotons 59 USSR

The table above only lists those high-altitude nuclear explosions for which a reference exists in the open (unclassified) English-language scientific literature to persistent artificial radiation belts resulting from the explosion.

The Starfish Prime radiation belt had, by far, the greatest intensity and duration of any of the artificial radiation belts.

The Starfish Prime radiation belt damaged the United States satellites Ariel 1, Traac, Transit 4B, Injun I and Telstar I.  It also damaged the Soviet satellite Cosmos V.  All of these satellites failed completely within several months of the Starfish detonation

via Artificial Radiation Belts

Project Thor

In operations and projects, wild card on May 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Project Thor is an idea for a weapons system that launches kinetic projectiles from Earth’s orbit to damage targets on the ground. Jerry Pournelle originated the concept while working in operations research at Boeing in the 1950s before becoming a science-fiction writer.

The most described system is “an orbiting tungsten telephone pole with small fins and a computer in the back for guidance”. The weapon can be down-scaled, an orbiting “crowbar” rather than a pole.The system described in the 2003 United States Air Force (USAF) report was that of 20-foot-long (6.1 m), 1-foot-diameter (0.30 m) tungsten rods, that are satellite controlled, and have global strike capability, with impact speeds of Mach 10.

via Kinetic Bombardment