LLNL Conducts First Plutonium Shot Using the JASPER Gas Gun

July 08, 2003
LLNL Conducts First Plutonium Shot Using the JASPER Gas Gun
Nevada Test Site, NV

The National Nuclear Security Administration’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) successfully executes the first plutonium shot using the Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research (JASPER) gas gun at NNSA's Nevada Test Site. LLNL scientists use the 100-foot, two-stage gas gun to fire a projectile at more than five kilometers per second at a plutonium target. The impact produces a high-pressure shock wave that passes through the plutonium in a fraction of a microsecond while diagnostic equipment measures the properties of the shocked plutonium. Shock physics experiments complement the ongoing subcritical experiment program at NTS as part of the NNSA’s stockpile stewardship program to maintain the safety and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile in the absence of underground testing.