National Nuclear Security Administration

NNSA celebrates “May the Fourth” with a question: Who shot first?

May 4, 2017

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On “May the Fourth,” the world celebrates the classic film saga, Star Wars. Much like the Jedi Order, the Nuclear Security Enterprise is made up of scientists, engineers, scholars, and seekers-of-wisdom, with security and safety at the forefront of their exploration of the universe’s phenomena.

Fans have debated “who shot first?” during a fateful confrontation between two characters. At NNSA, we have our own version of the question: Who, of NNSA’s family of stockpile stewardship capabilities, shot first? Luckily for our fans, the nuclear timeline is set in history, so these answers won’t be changing in future releases.

Z-Machine at Sandia National Laboratories, the world’s most powerful X-ray source, was breaking records as early as July 1997, preceding the first shots of our other contenders.

The two-stage gas gun at the Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research (JASPER) Facility, part of the Nevada National Security Site, fired its first shot in July 2003.

The National Ignition Facility, the world’s largest laser system in the world, began firing all 192-laser beams onto targets in June 2009. It’s at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Test H3837 was the first explosive shot performed in front of both flash X-ray axes at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test (DARHT) facility. It occurred in November 2009.