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It was the perfect airborne death machine—a supersonic drone of nearly unlimited range, loaded with hydrogen bombs zooming around Earth at more than 2,500 miles per hour. To the engineers who worked on its development, it was “technically sweet” and the high point of their careers.
Developed between 1957 and 1964, the Supersonic Low Altitude Missile was one of the craziest, deadliest nuclear weapons systems ever pursued.
The locomotive-sized cruise missile would loiter at high altitudes above the Soviet Union, before dropping down to treetop level and roaring across enemy territory at Mach 3. Then it would lob nuclear bombs at everything in its path.
Were it ever completed, the missile likely would have worked. But the success of several experimental designs turned out to be the project’s ultimate doom.
The SLAM missile also overcame several interesting engineering challenges. During the 1950s, the vast power and endurance of nuclear energy seemed ideal for powering fast, long-range rockets and airplanes. In theory, a nuclear-powered airplane could stay aloft for days, or fly at incredible speeds without refueling.
Sensing that national morale was low after the Soviets launched Sputnik, the U.S. government coined a plan: they’d nuke the Moon, causing an explosion so big that it’d be visible from Earth. They hoped the explosion would not only boost the confidence and approval of Americans, but serve as a show of power to the Soviets.
originally posted by: Crumbles
a reply to: Bedlam
I always wondered why they don't use it in space. It's already littered with radiation.