WASHIGTON, DC. – The National Nuclear Security Administration today released its current quarterly summary of experiments conducted as part of its science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program. The experiments carried out within the program are used in combination with complex computational models and NNSA’s Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Program to assess the safety, security and effectiveness of the stockpile. See summary here.
“In order for our stockpile to remain safe, secure and effective without the recourse to underground testing, we rely on these experiments,” said Dr. Don Cook, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs. “One of the goals of NNSA was to replace aging Manhattan Project-era facilities with facilities of appropriate size, configuration and capability and to update modern science and manufacturing tools and equipment. Now that we have these facilities and tools and equipment, we can deliver a life-extended deterrent and assure the safety of our stockpile and our workforce.”
The quarterly summary prepared by NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs provides descriptions of key NNSA facilities that conduct stockpile stewardship experiments. These include some of the most sophisticated scientific research facilities in the world including, the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories. The summary also provides the number of experiments performed at each facility during each quarter.
The key highlights of the first quarter include the continued increase in shot rate and data return from NIF, in particular the first Pu experiment on NIF, the return to operations of the TA-55 gas gun, a successful series of plutonium experiments on Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research (JASPER) at the Nevada National Security Site, and the continued success of smaller scale experimental facilities. All of the NNSA research, development, test, and evaluation experimental facilities are currently operational and even those that did not execute experiments in the past quarter (such as U1a) are being operated in preparation for the next major experiments.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad. Visit the NNSA homepage here.