We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Starfish Prime?

Michael Anissimov
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Starfish Prime was a high-altitude nuclear test conducted by the US on 9 July 1962, at Johnston Atoll in the Pacific, about 1400 km (870 mi) southwest of the Hawaiian islands. Starfish Prime was conducted as a part of Operation Dominic. The Johnston Atoll was chosen as a test site because of its relative isolation.

Operation Dominic was the largest series of nuclear tests ever conducted by the United States, with a total of 105 bombs exploded at various altitudes. At the time, Cold War paranoia was at its highest, and the United States was quickly rushing to develop missiles capable of striking into the heart of Russia from Allied launch pads in the UK. Starfish Prime was just one of these tests.

Launched on board a Thor rocket (an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile) was a W49 thermonuclear warhead with a design yield of 1.44 megatons. The warhead was exploded 400 km (250 miles) above the island, well above the international definition for outer space, which is at only 100 km above the surface. The electromagnetic pulse generated knocked out numerous electronics in nearby Hawaii, setting off burglar alarms, breaking three hundred street lights, wreaking havoc with radios and TV sets, and fusing power lines. The explosion created an artificial aurora that persisted for seven minutes and could be seen from as far away as Samoa, 3200 km (2000 mi) distant.

Because of the lack of air at the altitude where Starfish Prime was staged, there was no resulting fireball, though numerous other malevolent effects occurred, some planned, some not. Three weeks prior, at another test associated with Operation Dominic, Bluegill Prime, the Thor booster failed and the test had to be aborted, raining radioactive metal down on Johnston Atoll.

During this test, Starfish Prime was successful, but it released so much energy into the Earth's radiation belts that the delicate electronics on seven satellites was ruined, a total of 1/3 of all satellites in low earth orbit at the time. Lacking any way of measuring the radiation in the Earth's inner radiation belts, this led to the launch of more delicate measurement satellites. It is said that high-energy electrons from Starfish Prime persisted in the atmosphere for as long as five years.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated All The Science contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.
Discussion Comments
By anon166147 — On Apr 07, 2011

This is probably why the ozone was depleted.

By anon38451 — On Jul 26, 2009

This is my forst time running into wisegeek.com, so I cannot be judgmental concerning the quality of your website, but I must say that I do need much more information about Operation Starfish Prime.

I have also read in certain places that Operation Starfish Prime was actually an attempt by the folks at NASA to make a whole in the Van Allen belt in order to allow the moon shots to make it safely without the human body being destroyed by dangerous radiation!

In actuality, I do not believe the information about Operation Starfish Prime being released by government agencies, and this travesty that was unleashed "250 miles" above the planet earth has done much more to alienate us from our creator than anyone could ever imagine!

There is science to creation and you cannot have one and dismiss the other!

The knowledge of science does not mean the disrespect of that of which you have the knowledge!

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated All The Science contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology...
Learn more
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.