I saw this headline
today, and had to node it. According to the story on Discovery
Online, the United States
considered nuking the moon in the 1958 as a show of
superiority, due to the fact that they had fallen behind in the Space Race
and were considered far behind the Russians in developing long-range nuclear missiles
Leonard Reiffel, who headed the project at Chicago's Armour Research Foundation in 1958, was charged with finding some scientific value in detonating a nuke on the lunar surface, and apparently hired Carl Sagan to investigate whether the bomb could be used to detect organic molecules.
The project was cancelled when the Air Force (wisely) came to the conclusion that the risks of nuking the moon outweighed any potential benefits. Says Reiffel, "There was no point in ruining the pristine environment of the moon. There were other ways to impress the public that we were not about to be overwhelmed by the Russians."