Sandia National Laboratories

From Academic Kids

Sandia National Laboratories is a major United States Department of Energy research and development national laboratory with two locations, one in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the other in Livermore, California. Its primary mission is to develop, engineer, and test the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons. Its main secured campus is ~4.4 square miles (11 km2) and is located on Kirtland Air Force Base.

Sandia's primary mission is to implement the nation's nuclear weapon policies through research, development, and testing related to nuclear weapons. This includes maintaining the reliability and surety of nuclear weapon systems, performing research and development in arms control and nonproliferation technologies, and contributing solutions to the problem of hazardous wastes resulting from the nuclear weapons program. Other missions include research and development in energy and environmental programs, as well as the surety of critical national infrastructures.


Budget and Employment

  • FY 1997, total funding ($ Millions)=$1,352 and Full Time Employees=7,676
  • FY 1998, total funding (Projected)=$1,358 and Full Time Employees=7,500

Breakdown of expenditures

  • Defense Programs 47%
  • Environmental Management 8%
  • Nonproliferation and National Security 9%
  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy 4%
  • Energy Research 3%
  • Civilian Radioactive Waste Management 1%
  • Fossil Energy 1%
  • Nuclear Energy 1%
  • DoD 16%
  • Other non-DOE 6%

Lab history

Sandia National Laboratories' roots go back to World War II and the Manhattan Project. Prior to the United States formally entering the war, the U.S. Army leased land adjacent to an Albuquerque, New Mexico airport known as Oxnard Field, to service transient Army and Navy aircraft. In January 1941 construction began on the Albuquerque Army Air Base, leading to establishment of the Bombardier School-Army Advanced Flying School near the end of the year. Soon thereafter it was renamed Kirtland Field, after early Army military pilot Colonel Roy S. Kirtland, and in mid-1942 the Army acquired Oxnard Field. During the war years facilities were expanded further and Kirtland Field served as a major Army Air Forces training installation.

In the months leading up to successful detonation of the first atomic bomb, the Trinity Project, and delivery of the first airborne atomic weapon, the Alberta Project, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Director of Los Alamos Laboratory, and his technical advisor, Hartly Rowe, began looking for a new site convenient to Los Alamos for the continuation of weapons development - especially its non-nuclear aspects. They felt a separate division would be best to perform these functions. Kirtland had fulfilled Los Alamos' transportation needs for both the Trinity and Alberta projects, thus, Oxnard Field was transferred from the jurisdiction of the Army Air Corps to the U.S. Army Service Forces Chief of Engineer District, and thereafter, assigned to the Manhattan Engineer District. In July 1945, the forerunner of Sandia Laboratory, known as 'Z' Division, was established at Oxnard Field to handle future weapons development, testing, and bomb assembly for the Manhattan Engineer District. The District- directive calling for establishing a secure area and construction of 'Z' Division facilities referred to this as 'Sandia Base' - apparently the first official recognition of the 'Sandia' name.

Sandia Laboratory was operated by the University of California until 1949, when President Truman asked American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) to assume the operation as an 'opportunity to render an exceptional service in the national interest.' Sandia Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of AT&T Corporation, managed and operated the laboratory until October of 1993. Congress designated Sandia Laboratories as a National laboratory in 1979. Today, Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) is managed and operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, and includes government-owned facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico (SNL/NM); Livermore, California (SNL/CA); Tonopah, Nevada; and Kauai, Hawaii. SNL/NM is headquarters and the largest laboratory, employing more than 6,600 employees, while SNL/CA is a smaller laboratory, with about 850 employees. Tonopah and Kauai are occupied on a 'campaign' basis, as test schedules dictate.

Technical areas

SNL/NM consists of five technical areas (TA) and several additional test areas. Each TA has its own distinctive operations. A description of each area is given below.

TA-I operations are dedicated primarily to three activities - the design, research, and development of weapon systems; limited production of weapon system components; and energy programs. TA-I facilities include the main library and offices, laboratories, and shops used by administrative and technical staff.

TA-II is a 45 acre (180,000 m²) facility that was established in 1948 for the assembly of chemical high explosive main charges for nuclear weapons and later for production scale assembly of nuclear weapons. Activities in TA-II include the decontamination, decommissioning, and remediation of facilities and landfills used in past research and development activities. Remediation of the Classified Waste Landfill which started in March of 1998, neared completion in FY2000. A testing facility, the Explosive Component Facility, integrates many of the previous TA-II test activities as well as some testing activities previously performed in other remote test areas. The Access Delay Technology Test Facility is also located in TA-II.

TA-III is adjacent to and south of TA-V [both are approximately 7 miles (8 km) south of TA-I]. TA-III facilities include extensive design-test facilities such as rocket sled tracks, centrifuges and a radiant heat facility. Other facilities in TA-III include a paper destructor, the Melting and Solidification Laboratory and the Radioactive and Mixed Waste Management Facility (RMWMF). RMWMF serves as central processing facility for packaging and storage of low-level and mixed waste. The remediation of the Chemical Waste Landfill, which started in September of 1998, is an ongoing activity in TA-III.

TA-IV, located approximately 1/2 mile (1 km) south of TA-I, consists of several inertial-confinement fusion research and pulsed power research facilities, including the High Energy Radiation Megavolt Electron Source (Hermes-III), the Z Facility, the Short Pulsed High Intensity Nanosecond X-Radiator (SPHINX) Facility, and the Saturn Accelerator.

TA-V contains two research reactor facilities, an intense gamma irradiation facility (using cobalt-60 and caesium-137 sources), and the Hot Cell Facility.

SNL/NM also has test areas outside of the five technical areas listed above. These test areas, collectively known as Coyote Test Field, are located southeast of TA-III and/or in the canyons on the west side of the Manzanita Mountains. Facilities in the Coyote Canyon Test Field include the Solar Tower Facility, the Lurance Canyon Burn Site and the Aerial Cable Facility.

See also

External links

Template:Geolinks-US-photo Template:U.S. National Labsid:Sandia National Laboratories


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