cold war

Monster Machines: Of Course The First Object Ever Recovered From Orbit Was For Spying

In the early days of the US satellite surveillance program, our orbital cameras employed state-of-the-art technologies to get the physical film back to Earth for development and analysis. They shot it back into the atmosphere like 136kg bullets, and tried to catch the falling canisters by their parachutes using a passing plane armed with a sky hook. No, seriously.


How To Hide A Nuclear Missile

After its Cuban Missile Crisis experience, Kremlin leaders wanted to ensure the USSR would never again be outgunned: one might call it ‘Cuban Missile Syndrome’. The result were new missile systems, including schemes to cache nuclear warheads in the deep ocean and outer space. But before the strange logic of nuclear warfare could move off-world — and partially because the very effort placed too much strain on its economy — the Soviet Union collapsed. What follows is a history of these imagined futures of Cold War annihilation.


27 High-Tension Photos Of American Jets Intercepting Russian Warplanes

This week interception of Russian warplanes by NATO Typhoon fighters reminds me of the time in which the world was on the brink of total nuclear annihilation, when Soviet forces taunted the Americans to test their defenses. This image collection shows that part of a Cold War that seems reactivated right now.


US Senate Panel Sets Aside $US100 Million To Build Putin-Free Rocket

Could the budgetary shot in the arm our space program so desperately needs come from rising tensions between Russia and the US? In the latest development in the New Cold Warâ„¢, a US Senate panel has budgeted $US100 million to fund a state-of-the-art rocket engine designed and built in Amurica.


Monster Machines: This Cold War Test Bed Irradiated Satellites Before The Soviets Could

How do you ensure that fancy new military satellite is tough enough to withstand an orbital EMP attack by the Soviets? By shooting it with your own nuclear bomb using this massive, movable test chamber, obviously.


Living In This Nuclear Shelter For 1000 People Looks Like A Nightmare

This abandoned Cold War bomb shelter in Kaliningrad, Russia — photographed by Andrei Pep Novozhilov — looks horrible now. But even if it were new, surviving a nuclear holocaust in this claustrophobic space with 1000 other humans sounds like a real nightmare — even worse than being vaporised.


How Cold War Spy Satellites Revealed 10,000 Lost Cities And Ruins

CORONA was the codename for the United States’ first photographic spy satellite mission. For 12 years, it brought back intel on the USSR, China and the Middle East. But that wasn’t all its grainy, black and white images captured — it turns out it also caught an incredible number of undiscovered ancient settlements.


This Swanky Bomb Shelter Might Be Hidden Somewhere Under An NYC Park

You wouldn’t believe it just by looking at it, but this slice of 60s Americana is located three feet underneath a New York City park. Or, at least, it was back in 1964. Whether it’s still there remains a mystery — one almost as fascinating as the reason it was constructed in the first place.


Monster Machines: How The Granddaddy Of US Recon Planes Is Helping Search For Flight 370

The mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 off the coast of Vietnam has prompted a massive multinational maritime search for hints of the plane’s fate. Among the growing armada of surface and aerial search vessels is the US Navy’s venerable P-3C Orion, a long-range surveillance platform still just as effective today as it was in the early Cold War.


How Tumbleweeds Spread Radiation From Old Nuclear Sites

The tumbleweed, which seems so at home rolling down a highway, is actually an invasive plant from the Russian steppes. In the relatively short time it’s been invading the plains — just over a century — the tumbleweed has managed to establish itself as an indelible symbol of the western landscape. It is the ultimate sleeper cell, we might say, an enemy plant, if we were to resort to Cold War metaphors.


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