U.S. Detonates Nuclear Weapons in Space; People Watch Spectacle Sipping Drinks on Rooftops (1962)

In 1962, during the height of the Cold War, the United States launched nuclear weapons (bigger than the ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki) into space and detonated them. Ostensibly, the goal was to see what these high altitude nuclear blasts might do to the Earth’s magnetic field.

The explosions took place some 400 kilometers (250 miles) above Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean. And, as the NPR video above describes it, folks living in the Pacific watched the light show while gathered on rooftops and blithely sipping drinks. Below, you can view arresting footage of the tests — without having to worry about getting radioactive fallout in your cocktail.

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53 Years of Nuclear Testing in 14 Minutes: A Time Lapse Film by Japanese Artist Isao Hashimoto

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How a Clean, Tidy Home Can Help You Survive the Atomic Bomb: A Cold War Film from 1954

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