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Insane Cold War nuclear defense plan sought to stop the Earth from spinning

By T.K. Randall
May 13, 2024 · Comment icon 5 comments
Thousands of rockets.
Suffice to say, this was never going to work. Image Credit: Midjourney
The bonkers plan looked at ways to stop the Earth's rotation so that Soviet nuclear missiles would miss their targets.
So great was the danger of nuclear armageddon during the Cold War that military analysts looked at every conceivable way to protect the United States from being annihilated by Soviet nukes.

Perhaps the strangest of these ideas was known as Project Retro.

The concept was relatively simple - nuclear missiles relied upon a complex series of calculations in order to correctly hit their targets, so if the rotation of the Earth changed, the nukes would all miss.

So began a concerted effort to find a way to temporarily stop the entire planet from spinning.

What scientists came up with was the quite insane idea of launching 1,000 large rockets all at the same time so that their collective thrust would disrupt the Earth's rotation.
Of course, even if the enemy nukes missed their targets, they would still cause a huge amount of devastation, although the key military installations and nuclear launch sites would be spared.

"Our land-based retaliatory force would be saved," wrote whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

"To carry out - presumably, when things had settled down and Earth was again spinning normally - a retaliatory attack against the cities and soft military targets (their missiles having already left their hardened silos) in the Soviet Union."

There was a pretty major catch, however, in that the process of stopping the Earth's rotation would cause so much devastation through natural disasters and other problems that it would be almost as bad as a major nuclear strike.

For obvious reasons, the plan was ultimately scrapped.

Source: Mail Online | Comments (5)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Essan 6 days ago
Clever idea. To prevent nuclear annilation of most life on Earth you annilate all life in Earth ?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Cho Jinn 6 days ago
This is the out-of-the-box thinking my tax dollars are good for.
Comment icon #3 Posted by styx696 5 days ago
Bonkers is right. You can maybe stop a planet, but you can NOT stop the wind. It wouldn't be almost as bad as a nuclear bomb, it would be 10,000x times worse. Stopping the planet would literally destroy all life on Earth. The winds would be 1000mph minimum and any form of life on the surface would be stripped away. Not surprised the US Government wanted to end the world.
Comment icon #4 Posted by L.A.T.1961 5 days ago
Is this feasible even with enough rockets? I guess if rockets were fixed to the ground they could be huge. 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Doubleheader One 5 days ago
I’m guessing the reason it was scrapped is because that every military or NASA aerial experiment and calculation for propulsion in the atmosphere is done under the premise of a flat, non-rotational earth. 

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