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Time: 22:35:00.00 27 August 1957 (GMT)
Location: NTS, Area U3d
Test Height and Type: -500 feet, open shaft
Yield: Often listed as "slight", actual yield 300 tons (predicted 1-2 lb)
Device Description: 64.6 lb; 11.75x15 inches; plutonium pit; PBX 9401 and 9404 explosives
Pascal-A (originally named Galileo-A) was a one-point safety test, an attempt to verify a primary design that would have a small maximum energy release if accidentally detonated. Accidental detonations can only initiate the detonation at one location instead of the multi-point initiation of a deliberately fired multi-detonator system, hence the concept of the "one point safe" criterion. Even as planned, Pascal-A was unsafe by current safety standards since a nuclear yield of 1-2 lb was expected, compared to current standards of zero yield. But for safety sake, they tested the device near the bottom of a deep open shaft. This was the first US nuclear test to be conducted in an underground shaft, and thus qualifies as the beginning of US underground nuclear testing.
Sometime in 1956 Dr. Alvin Graves, Division Leader of the Test Division at Los Alamos told me that we were going to have to test underground in order to reduce fallout as much as possible. He asked me to see what I could learn about it by making what calculations I could.
The temperatures and pressures generated by a nuclear explosion are such that there was considerable doubt that any underground test buried at a "reasonable" depth could be contained.
Objects can only be propelled to very high velocities by a nuclear explosion if they are located close to the burst point. Once a nuclear fireball has grown to a radius that is similar in size to the radius of a quantity of high explosive of similar yield, its energy density is about the same and very high velocities would not be produced. This radius for a 300 ton explosion is 3.5 meters.
The steel plate at the top of the shaft was over 150 m from the nuclear device, much too far for it to be propelled to extreme velocity directly by the explosion. The feature of Pascal-B that made this possible was the placement of the collimator close to the device. The mass of the collimator cylinder was at least 2 tonnes (if solid) and would have been vaporized by the explosion, turning it into a mass of superheated gas that expanded and accelerated up the shaft, turning it into a giant gun. It was the hypersonic expanding column of vaporized concrete striking the cover plate that propelled it off the shaft at high velocity.
Starfish Prime was a high-altitude nuclear test conducted by the United States of America on July 9, 1962, a joint effort of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the Defense Atomic Support Agency (which became the Defense Nuclear Agency in 1971).
Originally posted by starwarsisreal
reply to post by Wrabbit2000
Well if you want see a space nuke launch well the only place in the world where u can see one is North Korea but then again I doubt little Kimmy would let you see
edit on 25-8-2012 by starwarsisreal because: (no reason given)
This is interesting stuff, but you appear to have overlooked some important information in your source:
Originally posted by Wrabbit2000
Final figures I came across estimated the speed to be at 66km/sec. Well beyond what is necessary for Earth escape velocity.
So that is how a steel plate MAY have actually beat Sputnik to space...and a nuclear weapon did it!
One thing that might help would be making the object into an aerodynamic shape that would reduce drag, but even that would lose much of its velocity.
This is about five times Earth's 11.2 km/sec escape velocity, quite close to the figure of six times arrived at by Dr. Brownlee in his detailed computations.
But the assumption that it might have escaped from Earth is implausible (Dr. Brownlee's discretion in making a priority claim is well advised). Leaving aside whether such an extremely hypersonic unaerodynamic object could even survive passage through the lower atmosphere, it appears impossible for it to retain much of its initial velocity while passing through the atmosphere. A ground launched hypersonic projectile has the same problem with maintaining its velocity that an incoming meteor has.
The BBC made a great documentary on this. The scientists went to visit a coca-cola bottling plant to study how large numbers of products could be handled so quickly because they were planning to detonate huge numbers of nukes in very rapid succession. They were somewhat "mad scientists" but Orion might have been able to launch a city-sized spaceship to Mars. Pretty amazing stuff.
Originally posted by Druscilla
At first I thought you were going to be talking about Project Orion, a proposed system of nuclear detonation propulsion.
That's an impressive speed.
Originally posted by Wrabbit2000
As a side note, I'd run the conversions just to get a sense in my mind for how fast it was really moving off the top of the shaft when they got 1 frame worth of image, as it took off... 66km/s equates to Mach 195.