This is Damn Interesting:

At the height of the Cold War in the late 1950s, all international communications were either sent through undersea cables or bounced off of the natural ionosphere. The United States military was concerned that the Soviets (or other “Hostile Actors”) might cut those cables, forcing the unpredictable ionosphere to be the only means of communication with overseas forces. … Their solution was to create an artificial ionosphere. In May 1963, the US Air Force launched 480 million tiny copper needles that briefly created a ring encircling the entire globe. They called it Project West Ford…

The story checks out. Pretty incredible.