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.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

Haunt­ing Unedit­ed Footage of the Bomb­ing of Nagasa­ki (1945)

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

80 Free Online His­to­ry Cours­es

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