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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Direct Course

The Direct Course event was a high explosive simulation of a nuclear detonation over a tactical battlefield against Soviet military equipment. On 26 October 1983 the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA) sponsored a high-explosive blast test, nicknamed DIRECT COURSE. This event simulated the blast effects from a one-kiloton nuclear detonation and provided an environment for the testing of selected blast and fallout shelters for their structural integrity. The Direct Course explosion using 600 tons of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil.

Under work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) fielded a set of experiments at the DIRECT COURSE event which were directed toward reducing the cost of blast shelter for small groups of people, such as workers in critical industries (keyworkers). Six items were tested: three scale models of a corrugated metal blast shelter and three full-size blast door closures for such a shelter. The three shelters survived blast overpressures up to 2.55 MPa (225 psi), a level which is equivalent to being approximately 800 m (0.5 mile) from a 1 megaton nuclear detonation. Each shelter model was 180 cm (6 ft.) long by 60 cm (2 ft.) in diameter, was buried about 60 cm (2 ft.) below ground level, and represented a 1/4-scale version of a full-size blast shelter which would be capable of supporting 12 to 18 occupants. The three full-size, 90 cm (35 in.) diameter, blast doors for such a shelter also successfully resisted the same range of blast overpressure. Each door weighed less than 45 kg (100 lb) and incorporated a novel, yielding-membrane design.^These sheet metal membranes were between 1.3 and 2.0 mm (0.050 and 0.080 in.) thick and were supported by an edge beam (hoop).

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