The US government’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) has studied several speculative technologies such as invisibility cloaking, and boring a tunnel through the Moon with nuclear explosions, a trove of newly released secret documents revealed.
The documents, obtained and shared by Vice.com, contain nearly 1,600 pages of proposals, contracts, meeting notes, and reports, which reveal some of the priorities of AATIP that ran from 2007 to 2012, funded by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) .
While the AATIP previously came under the spotlight after its former director Luis Elizondo infamously leaked videos of unidentified aircraft moving in seemingly impossible ways, latest documents reveal the defense program was investigating more than just reported UFO encounters.
The now formally defunct program was also using taxpayers’ money to study the defense and military application potential of a range of speculative technologies like traversable wormholes, antigravity, gravitational wave communications, and a proposal to tunnel a hole through the moon using nuclear explosions, documents revealed.
Many of the reports traced scientific developments on the fronts of the proposed projects and also acknowledged the impracticalities of some of the speculative technologies.
For instance, in the report on invisibility, the document notes that “perfect cloaking devices” are “impossible,” since they “require materials where the speed of light approaches infinity,” adding that “imperfect cloaking devices could be made.”
“Whether invisibility in the visible range of the spectrum will become a reality is not entirely clear yet. Most probably this will depend more on the new theoretical research than on advances in new materials, and on the application of mathematical intelligence, intuition, and imagination,” the released document noted.
However, it said that cloaking devices that make objects invisible to microwave-based sensors like radars are “definitely within reach of the present technology.
In other documents, authors described the feasibility of more outlandish technologies, closely bordering science fiction, such as warp drives and traversable wormholes.
Describing how warpdrives theoretically work, the unnamed authors said they involve local manipulation of the fabric of space in the immediate vicinity of a spacecraft.
“The basic idea is to create an asymmetric bubble of space that is contracting in front of the spacecraft while expanding behind it. Using this form of locomotion, the spacecraft remains stationary inside this ‘warp bubble,’ and the movement of space itself facilitates the relative motion of the spacecraft,” they noted.
In one document, unnamed authors suggested blasting a tunnel through the Moon’s crust and mantle using nuclear explosives.
While it is yet unclear if the documents ultimately led to any long-term investments in these technologies, the agenda for AATIP’s research reportedly relied on a contract with a private company called Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS).
This company was run by Robert Bigelow, who according to Vice.com is a personal friend of the late Harry Reid, a senator who was responsible for the creation of AATIP.
BAASS was awarded a contract worth $10m for their first year of research for the programme.
In 2020, Popular Mechanics reported some aspects of the program following the release of a set of documents.
“The whole contracting process for this program was irregular from start to finish. [The AAWSAP contract] sounds like it was a good deal for the contractor. But it would be hard to argue that either the military or the public got their money’s worth,” Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, told Popular Mechanics.