A key mission of the National Nuclear Security Administration is to maintain the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear explosive testing. Data gathered from experiments at the Contained Firing Facility (CFF) help validate computer modeling about how the explosives and assemblies in nuclear weapons will behave. The CFF firing chamber is the largest indoor firing chamber in the world, used for large-scale experiments using high-explosives with full containment of hazardous materials. The facility provides a combination of capabilities, including wide-angle flash radiography, laser velocimetry, pin-dome measurements, and high-speed optical cameras that are used to measure dynamics during the experiments. The CFF is a key component of NNSA's national hydrodynamic test capabilities and plays an important role in evaluating weapons in the active stockpile.
Former Army Ranger Damon Alcorn recently received the Sandia National Laboratories-Livermore Chamber of Commerce Student of the Year Award. Presented at the Chamber’s State of the City Luncheon last month, the annual award highlights a Las Positas College student with exemplary academic achievements and leadership.
Born and raised in the Bay Area, Alcorn graduated cum laude from California State University, East Bay in 2004 with a bachelor of arts in history. That same year Alcorn enlisted in the U.S. Army. After completing infantry training, airborne school, and the Ranger Indoctrination Program, he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
After his military service, Alcorn earned a master of arts in liberal arts from California State University, Sacramento. Following graduation he entered the private sector, working in corporate communications and public relations.
In 2012, he enrolled at Las Positas College where he studied computer science and network security and administration. This spring, Alcorn received an associate of science in engineering technology from Los Positas College.
Next month he will begin pursuing a master of science in computer science at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.
Madeline Burchard, community relations officer for Sandia/California, who helped present the award to Alcorn, said education and specifically science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are core to Sandia.
“Since Sandia National Lab’s inception, we have invested in education,” Burchard said. “It is part of our culture to give back and it’s a value that we have carried over the last 60 years. We want to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.”
Today, in accordance with a 1971 Presidential proclamation, the United States commemorates the first human setting foot on the moon. As a science agency, NNSA’s technology and development have given rise to extraterrestrial innovation and enabled other-worldly achievements. From building the hardware that help scientists reach outer space to modeling the physics that both explain and make space exploration possible, NNSA’s labs and sites are at the forefront of American space ingenuity.
Capabilities at NNSA’s labs that were created to support NNSA’s stockpile stewardship and nonproliferation missions are ideal for testing spacecraft materials against the harsh environments endured during space travel. Highlights of these efforts include:
NNSA’s Y-12 National Security Campus helps create fuel for NASA’s long-range space exploration missions, while Los Alamos lab helps chemically process and package the fuel.
NNSA’s Savannah River Site produced the plutonium used to power NASA’s Pluto flyby probe. More than 27 space missions have used plutonium-driven power sources, including 10 in Earth orbits, five moon missions, three Mars missions and nine planetary missions.
Among some of the most exciting work conducted at NNSA’s laboratories is for planetary defense – detecting, tracking, and planning deflection missions for asteroids that might collide with Earth. All of NNSA’s labs participate in the planetary defense effort.
Last week NNSA’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) co-hosted DisrupTech, a community event aimed at connecting innovation from the lab to community members and industry leaders to encourage technology transfer.
The title comes from the world-changing technologies the lab’s scientists deliver, which have the potential to disrupt existing markets and create new ones. The Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation at Los Alamos co-sponsored the event, which featured entrepreneurial-minded Los Alamos scientists with ideas for groundbreaking technology. These researchers presented their technologies to a private-sector panel in hopes of garnering support to bring the ideas to industry.