Just finished watching an interesting documentary. Nukes in Space: the Rainbow bombs chronicles America's race to develop a working Intercontinental Ballistic Missile [ICBM] and the Nuclear Arms race that had ensued between the Soviets and the Americans post-World War II.
The most interesting aspect in this battle for supremacy was the series of high-altitude Nuclear tests conducted by them to gauge the effect of injecting high energy particles into the ionosphere and the Van Allen radiation belt, after its existence was proven by the Explorer-1. Knocking out radio communications, destroying orbiting satellites and producing a surreal kaleidoscope of multi-spectral Aurora visible across the sky were some of the resulting consequences, besides the extremely high levels of radiation released after such test detonations.
In fact, the 9th of July marked the 43rd anniversary of the Starfish Prime test, considered to be a very significant test as it is said to have yielded far more data than any previous tests conducted and had succeed in extending the Van Allen radiation belt temporarily.
A very well-made documentary, containing some amazing footages of American & Soviet missile launches and assembly, besides the the artificially created Aurora resulting from these high-altitude Nuclear test - would highly recommend watching it.
While watching, do keep an eye out for the series of test launch failures faced by the Americans in their attempt to build up their Nuclear deterrence - spectacular footage of missiles and launch vehicles blowing up on launch pad or veering off course mid-flight, breaking up into spectacular balls of flames - all expected part of any genuine R&D programme.
Should put things in perspective as far as India's own development efforts go, operating at the fraction of the budget enjoyed by the US and Soviets, yet being able to build up a credible deterrence force in place. Unsubstantiated criticism, based on ignorance is so very unwarranted, people.
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