Sandia completes nuclear weapons test facilities project in United States ahead of schedule and under budget


8 May 2014 – Albuquerque, NM, USA – Sandia National Laboratories has announced the completion of the renovation of five large-scale test facilities that are crucial to ensuring the safety and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons systems. The work supports Sandia’s ongoing nuclear stockpile modernization work on the B61-12 and W88 Alt, assessments of current stockpile systems and test and analysis for broad national security customers. The renovation of two additional facilities was completed in 2005 during the first phase of the project. The two-phase $100 million project, which was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, renovated Sandia’s major environmental test facilities.

140508-pmwj23-nuclear-IMAGEThe second and final phase of the project, Test Capabilities Revitalization Phase 2, updated and rebuilt the 10,000-foot Rocket Sled Track, Mechanical Shock, Centrifuge, Vibro-Acoustic and Mass Properties and Aerosciences facilities. The $57.8 million effort was completed on time and the project team was able to return $4.5 million to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to address other critical needs. TCR Phase 1, from 2001 to 2005, constructed a new world-class Thermal Test Complex and rebuilt the Aerial Cable Facility. (Image:Centrifuge.Photo by Randy Montoya, courtesy of Sandia)

The facilities in Tech Area 3 are designed to conduct high-energy physical tests to simulate a variety of natural and induced environments and evaluate the performance of the nation’s nuclear weapons’ systems in these environments. Many of the facilities were built at the height of the Cold War and had not been updated in six decades. The project received funding through a congressional line item and Sandia completed the work with strong support from the NNSA’s Defense Programs and Acquisition and Project Management.

“These large-scale test facilities are a vital part of the process used to demonstrate that nuclear weapon components and systems withstand the extreme environments that the weapons encounter during transportation, launch, re-entry and impact,” said Dennis Miller, senior manager of Sandia’s Validation and Qualification Group. “The data we gather from these large-scale tests validate the computer models that are used to more fully understand and predict the performance of the weapon systems.”

Despite nearly continuous construction, Sandia project manager Paul Schlavin and his small, dedicated team made sure that Tech Area 3 was never out of commission. While individual facilities were shut down due to construction, testing continued throughout the renovation. “We’re very pleased that we were able to work around the test schedules and revitalize these needed facilities without disrupting the testing,” Schlavin said. “There was a lot of work going on and a lot of people trying very hard and doing very good work for Sandia and for the nation.”

For more information about this project, visit https://share.sandia.gov/news/resources/news_releases/tcr/#.U2zr3sIU_q5

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California, Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.  More at http://www.sandia.gov/

Source: Sandia National Laboratories