Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Learn Our History Today: January 31

On today’s date in 1950, President Harry S. (with a period) Truman announced his support to develop the hydrogen bomb.  In contrast to the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during the second World War, the hydrogen bomb was  believed to be hundreds of times more powerful.  Truman approved the massive funding for the development of what he called a “superbomb” for two reasons.  First, five months before Truman’s announcement, the Soviet Union was successful in detonating an atomic bomb at their test site in Kazakhstan.  And second, around the same time, British and U.S. intelligence concluded that a top scientist for the U.S. nuclear program was actually spying for the Soviet Union.   In November, 1952, nearly three years after Truman’s announcement, the U.S. successfully detonated the world’s first hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Martial Islands.  The explosion from  “Mike”, the 10.4 megaton bomb, vaporized an entire island and produced a mushroom cloud that reached 57,000 feet in 90 seconds!  The cloud kept growing, and capped out at 120,000 feet high, stretching 60 miles across.  It took the Soviet Union three years to create and detonate their own Hydrogen bomb, which they exploded in November, 1955.

Also on this day in 1971, Apollo 14 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a manned mission to the moon.   The third lunar landing occurred five days later on February 5, and on February 9, Apollo 14 and crew safely returned to the Earth, along with 96 pounds of lunar samples.

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