NNSA’s Kansas City Plant Meets Major Milestone with Completion of Nuclear Safety Part Called “MSAD”

Press Release
Feb 16, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Kansas City Plant (KCP) recently celebrated the completion of a 10-year production run of the Mechanical Safe Arming Detonator (MSAD) for the W87 nuclear warhead.

The MSAD, an extremely intricate nuclear safety component that prevents accidental or unintended detonation of a warhead, was the product of a strong partnership between the NNSA production sites and design labs that worked on the W87 weapon system, including the KCP, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

The successful completion of the MSAD production program comes as the Obama Administration is seeking increased investments to support similar efforts to maintain the safety, security and effectiveness of the nuclear stockpile without underground testing. Earlier this week, President Obama submitted to Congress a FY 2012 budget request that includes $7.6 billion for NNSA weapons activities, up 8.9 percent from 2011. This includes a 4.8 percent increase for the Stockpile Support programs.

“The W87 MSAD production effort is a significant milestone in our stockpile stewardship efforts and a terrific example of the collaboration that is occurring between our sites as we work to build one integrated NNSA enterprise,” said Don Cook, NNSA’s Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs. “As we invest in the future of our enterprise, successful programs like this are good examples of the way we are successfully implementing the President’s nuclear security agenda and building a modern, 21st Century national security enterprise.”

MSAD is a discriminator stronglink, a critical component for nuclear safety requirements. This intricate component protects the nuclear weapon by preventing any potential activation from outside sources. The miniature notches on a MSAD pattern wheel encode a signal set which must be received for the weapon to be operable. This unique signal set ensures that naturally-occurring signals or an improper input are incompatible.

From 2000 to 2010, the Kansas City Plant shipped nearly 1,000 MSAD kits, more than 1,700 e-assemblies, and nearly 60 trainers.

“The Kansas City Plant is known for its precision manufacturing of intricate mechanisms,” said Kansas City Site Office Manager Mark Holecek. “We are actively making our defense systems safer, more secure and more effective. The MSADs have a perfect reliability record, never having failed a scoreable test firing, arming, or lockup test.”

The greatest success of the program has been the collaboration of the sites across the enterprise. This project was one of the first instances of collaboration through a Product Realization Team (PRT) structure, and that proved to be successful for all parties – the production facility, the design agency, and the NNSA – to work together to achieve positive results. This achievement took the efforts and cooperation of hundreds of individuals at NNSA, KCP, LLNL and LANL.

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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.