National Nuclear Security Administration

Cygnus fires its 3,000th shot

September 11, 2015

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The Cygnus machine

Cygnus, a dual-axis flash X-ray radiography system designed by Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and jointly constructed and operated with National Securities Technologies and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), has fired its 3,000th shot. Originally envisioned for a single series of subcritical experiments, Cygnus has been a workhorse for more than a decade. The Aug. 27 milestone shot was performed by a team from the NNSS, SNL and LANL and used surrogate detonators to test the firing system to ensure that signals for diagnostics are correctly timed. The two locomotive-size X-ray machines, Cygnus-1 and Cygnus-2, are 1,000 feet underground.