NNSA Blog

Participants in Sandia’s Weapon Intern Program recently visited and toured NNSA's Kansas City Plant. The program, established in 1998, was created to meet Sandia's changing mission needs. Through a combination of classroom study taught by active and retired weaponeers, site visits and individual and team projects, weapon interns have honed their skills, broadened their knowledge base and expanded their network of colleagues in the nuclear weapons community.

Sandia’s Weapon Intern Program at KCP

Mar 22, 2013 at 11:00 am

Don Cook speaks at Pantex

Don Cook, NNSA’s deputy administrator for Defense Programs, last week spoke to Pantexans about the future mission of Pantex and the critical role the plant will play in maintaining the nation’s stockpile for decades to come. During the visit, Cook congratulated some of the 100-plus Pantexans who helped to secure the plant and conduct recovery operations during and after the Feb. 25 blizzard that dropped more than 19 inches on the Amarillo area.

Read more about the blizzard.

Mar 21, 2013 at 11:00 am

Pantex workers complete a construction pour at HEPF

Workers at the Pantex Plant last month finished the largest concrete pour to date on the High Explosives Pressing Facility, completing the last of the elevated soffits, which are part of the roof deck/second story of the building.

The pour marked the completion of approximately 50 percent of the construction on the 45,000 square-foot facility, which will combine high explosives operations from numerous outdated buildings into one state-of-the-art facility which will help to bolster Pantex’s status as the DOE’s High Explosives Center of Excellence for HE manufacturing.

Construction of the $65 million facility is expected to be complete next year. The construction effort is being managed by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and the design effort/plant support is being led by B&W Pantex/CH2MHill.

Mar 20, 2013 at 2:00 pm

OSIRIS simulation on Sequoia

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have performed record simulations using all 1,572,864 cores of Sequoia, the largest supercomputer in the world.

The simulations are the largest particle-in-cell (PIC) code simulations by number of cores ever performed. PIC simulations are used extensively in plasma physics to model the motion of the charged particles, and the electromagnetic interactions between them, that make up ionized matter.

Sequoia, a NNSA machine, is based on IBM BlueGene/Q architecture and is the first machine to exceed one million computational cores. It is also second on the list of the world’s fastest supercomputers, operating at 16.3 petaflops (16.3 quadrillion floating point operations per second). Sequoia preparing to move to classified computing in support of stockpile stewardship.

Read about Sequoia's record simulations.

About the photo:
OSIRIS simulation on Sequoia of the interaction of a fast-ignition-scale laser with a dense DT plasma. The laser field is shown in green, the blue arrows illustrate the magnetic field lines at the plasma interface and the red/yellow spheres are the laser-accelerated electrons that will heat and ignite the fuel.

Mar 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm

NIF Warehouse Group

The NIF Warehouse Group recently marked the 15th year without a lost work-time injury. Since warehouse operations began in 1998 at an off-site facility, the group has been involved in the receipt, storage and/or delivery of virtually every component that has gone into the construction of NIF, installation of the laser systems and the conduct of the National Ignition Campaign.

A celebration was held on March 6 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to recognize the group’s impressive accomplishments in both safety and productivity.

About the photo:
Participating in the 15-year warehouse safety celebration at Livermore were (left to right) Bob Arthur, Sandra Brereton, Barb Quivey, Kelvin Liggins, Joe Lamendola, George Bonawitz, Ed Pereira, Mike Stortz, Roger Esparza, Kevin King, Norma Hinds, Jim Turner and Valerie Roberts.

Mar 19, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Sandia researchers simulate the behavior of weapon componentsCheck out Sandia’s highlights for 2012 by viewing Sandia’s Labs Accomplishments. The publication recognizes some of Sandia’s best work during 2012, as submitted by Sandia center offices and selected by division offices.

See it here.

About the photo:
Sandia researchers use advanced computational capabilities to simulate the behavior of weapon components under a variety of conditions. Photo by Randy Montoya.

Mar 18, 2013 at 4:00 pm

The ChemCam mast unit mounted on the Curiosity rover

Members of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover ChemCam team will present more than two dozen posters and talks this week during the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas.

Since Curiosity’s successful landing on Mars on Aug. 6, 2012, ChemCam has fired more than 40,000 shots at more than a thousand different locations with its high-powered laser. The ChemCam system is one of 10 instruments mounted on the Curiosity rover—a six-wheeled mobile laboratory that will roam more than 12 miles of the planet’s surface during the course of one Martian year (98 Earth weeks).

The ChemCam team is comprised of researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the French space agency, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, as well as other researchers from the U.S., France, Canada, and the United Kingdom. ChemCam operations are now commanded from centers at Los Alamos and Toulouse, France.

Read more.

About the photo:
This image shows the ChemCam mast unit mounted on the Curiosity rover as it is being prepared in the clean room prior to the launch of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission. ChemCam fires a powerful laser that can sample Martian rocks and provide critical clues about the Red Planet's habitability. (Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory)

Mar 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Stan Maciaszek, SRNS, demonstrates during a teach-in.Engineers, scientists and technicians from the Savannah River Site recently provided science- and engineering-based demonstrations for more than 2,500 students for the 2013 National Engineers Week. 36 employees from Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) conducted 99 sessions at 15 middle schools in the Aiken, S.C., area. The interactive programs often include informative discussions and give students a broad understanding of the field of engineering.

Teach-ins are an effective way to promote the importance of a technical education in addition to high-level literacy in math, science and technology. Since its inception in 2009, an estimated 10,000 students in the region have benefitted from the outreach program.

About the photo:
Stan Maciaszek, an SRNS employee, demonstrates the four components required by fire during a teach-in.

Mar 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm

The AAR team poses with one of the OST 737s

AAR Inc., the aviation contractor for NNSA’s Office of Secure Transportation (OST), has received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 145 Repair Station Certification.

Jeff Harrell, NNSA assistant deputy administrator for secure transportation, said the designation means that OST has opened its facility to FAA oversight, and that they comply with the highest levels of conduct, documentation and safety in conducting the OST aviation mission. “Receiving the Part 145 Repair Station Certification from the FAA is a very proud moment for the entire AAR team and for OST,” he said.

The OST aviation program operates under FAA’s Part 125, which was granted in December 2012. Part 125 governs the operation of large airplanes configured for more than twenty passenger seats. Very few government aviation programs operate with FAA regulations and oversight. The OST aviation program is a government-operated, contractor-maintenance organization with a highly experienced all-federal staff involved in day-to-day operations.

OST’s aircraft provide safe and secure transportation of nuclear weapons components, nuclear limited life components, and transport federal agent task forces who conduct secure ground transportation. The OST fleet consists of two Boeing 737s, a DC-9, and a Learjet. They are housed at DOE’s facility at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. AAR has a staff of 26 there, including 14 mechanics and inspectors.

About the photo:
The AAR team poses with one of the OST 737s at its Albuquerque hangar.

Mar 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm

A twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter flies by Las Vegas's Mirage.

NNSA is conducting an aerial survey of portions of the Las Vegas Valley. The purpose of the flyovers is to measure naturally occurring background radiation.

A twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter, operated by the Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measuring System in Las Vegas, is equipped with gamma radiation sensing technology. The helicopter flies at a speed of approximately 80 miles per hour over various portions of the Valley at multiple attitudes.

The flyovers are a part of a research project sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO). The helicopter is scheduled to fly over the Las Vegas Valley for the next few years.

The background data will be used by DNDO to improve aerial radiation measurement capabilities used by local, state and federal entities.

About the photo:
A twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter, operated by the Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measuring System in Las Vegas, was seen yesterday on the Las Vegas Strip. NNSA and DNDO alert the public of the upcoming flights so that citizens who see the low-flying aircraft are not alarmed.

Mar 13, 2013 at 12:00 pm