Crash Testing to the Max

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Crash Testing to the Max

October 7, 2016

This, obviously, is not a car:

Photo: Sandia National Laboratories

But as the auto industry has to conduct physical testing of its products on a regular basis, it might be encouraging to those who conduct the tests that their colleagues in other fields do the same.

Although on objects that are somewhat more, um, potentially devastating.

That rocket is a mock B61-12 nuclear weapon.

Sandia National Laboratories sent it down a 10,000-foot rocket sled track. It rode on a test sled that separated so that the rocket, traveling 260 mph, flew 73 feet and then hit the steel and concrete wall.

The impact speed was 382 ±4 feet per second.

Explained Matt Brewer, lead test engineer, “Abnormal environment tests are performed to benchmark the performance of safety features designed into weapons.”

Setting the test up took more than a year’s worth of preparations. The test track was calibrated last December, using a “B61 trainer,” a shell with the same weight as the real thing. (You can see a YouTube video of it here.)

The test, performed in partnership with Los Alamos lab’s B61 Life Extension Program Systems Engineering and multiple Sandia organizations, was evidently successful.

Let’s hope that nothing untoward happens with the real thing.