Imagine you are a scientist. In 1958 there is a big discovery – some of the very first satellites launched by the United States discover the Van Allen radiation belts. Over the next couple of years they are further studied and characterized by more satellites.
So imagine that you are a scientist, and there are no nuclear proliferation or testing bans in place yet. What’s the next thing you would do? Perhaps you would launch a nuclear bomb into space and try blowing up the belts, just to see what would happen. That, in essence, was the Starfish Prime project, which is described in vivid detail in the following video: http://youtu.be/KZoic9vg1fw