The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

RDS-1 - The First Test

On August 5, 1949 a commission headed by Khariton approved the plutonium charge and sent by special train from KB-11. By this time they had almost completed work on the creation of an explosive device. Here, the control assembly of the nuclear charge, Index 501 of the atomic bomb RDS-1 was carried out on August 11. The device was dismantled, parts inspected, packed and prepared for shipment to the tst range. Thus, the Soviet atomic bomb was made in 2 years 8 months (in the US it took 2 years 7 months). The construction was carried out by the engineer troops of the Ministry of the Armed Forces. In the center of the experimental field, a metal lattice tower with a height of 37.5 m was mounted. It was intended to house the nuclear charge being tested. At the training ground, there were 1300 different instruments for physical measurements, 9700 indicators of various types for investigating penetrating radiation.

The test of the first Soviet nuclear charge 501 was held August 29, 1949 at the Semipalatinsk test site (the device had been on the tower). The power of the explosion was 22 kt. The design repeated the US "Fat Man", although the electronics were of Soviet design. The nuclear charge was a multilayer structure in which the transfer of plutonium into a critical state was carried out by compressing the converging spherical detonation wave. In the center of the charge was located 5 kg. of plutonium in the form of two hollow hemispheres, surrounded by amassive sheath of uranium-238 ( thetamper). This shell was used for inertial containment of the chain reaction of the nucleus, so that more of the plutonium had time to react, and also served as a neutron moderator and reflector (neutrons with low energy most efficiently absorbed by the nuclei of plutonium, causing their division).

The tamper was surrounded by a sheath of aluminum that provides uniform compression shock wave of a nuclear charge. In the cavity of the plutonium core was placed neutron initiator (fuse) - a ball with a diameter of about 2 cm of beryllium coated with a thin layer of polonium-210. When compressed, the nuclear bomb charge of polonium and beryllium nuclei approach each other, and emitted by radioactive polonium-210 alpha particles of beryllium knock neutrons which initiate a chain reaction of nuclear fission of plutonium-239.

One of the most complex assembly was explosive charge composed of two layers. The inner layer consisted of two hemispherical base alloy trinitrotoluene and hexogen, assembled from separate external components had different detonation velocity. The outer layer, intended to form the basis of a convergent spherical explosive detonation, was called the focusing system.

For security purposes, the installation assembly containing fissile material was carried out immediately before the application of the charge. To do this, there was a conical hole in the spherical explosive charge, and in the outer and inner casings were holes capped. Power explosion was caused by splitting nuclei about 1 kg. plutonium remaining 4 kg.

In seven years on August 29, 1949, the first Soviet atomic bomb was successfully tested. In these seven years, the impossible was accomplished something that became legend, just as the people who created this legend.

The next day, Beria in the Kremlin presented a report on the trials of Stalin. It said: "1. Exactly at the appointed time of the explosion at the site of the installation of the atomic bomb (at a 30 m steel tower in the center of the test site), an explosion of an atomic explosion took place, many times greater than the brightness of the Sun in its brightness. Within 3-4 seconds the flash took the form of a hemisphere, which increased to 400-500 m in diameter. 2. Simultaneously with a flash of light, an explosive cloud formed, reaching a height of several kilometers within 2-3 minutes, and then burst into ordinary rain clouds that covered the sky at the time of testing. 3. Following the explosion of the explosion, a shock wave of an atomic explosion arose tremendously." During the implementation of the program of creating the RDS-1, there were a lot of new ideas for the improvement of nuclear weapons (increasing the utilization rate of the fissile material, reducing the size and weight). New charges patterns became more powerful, more compact and "sleeker" than the first.

October 29, 1949 Stalin, as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, signed a "top secret" resolution, according to which Stalin Prizes I and II degrees and monetary prizes were awarded to about 300 scientists and engineers who took part in the development of the bomb, the creation of the nuclear industry and testing . On the basis of this decision of the Council of Ministers and petitions prepared by the Special Committee, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR issued a decree that also had the stamp "top secret", according to which the title of Hero of Socialist Labor was assigned to 33 participants in the nuclear project, including Kurchatov, Khariton, Vannikov, Zavenyagin; 260 people were awarded the Order of Lenin. It is curious that this decree was declassified only in the early 1990s.

Beria prepared executions lists in case of failure with a nuclear bomb test. Thus, Stanislav Pestov writes: "Even the glorious representatives of the NKVD learned that, on average, out of twenty tests one (and maybe the first one) should end in "cotton", so the "competent organs" prepared in advance documents that accused scientists, designers, production workers of sabotage, diversions and wrecking. Lists of "enemies of the people" were also drawn up, where Lavrentii Pavlovich personally made notes dear to his heart - "shoot," "plant", "expel", etc." Further, Pestov refers to Professor V. Frenkel: "After successful tests, the question arose about awards to scientists. This, too, was in charge of Beria. The candidature of one of the participants was considered. It was proposed to confer the title of Hero of Socialist Labor. Beria did not agree. Turning to his assistant, he asked: "Look, what was it written there in case of failure? Shooting? "-" No, Comrade Beria, do not shoot." "Well, if it's not shooting, then the Order of Lenin will be enough for him."

Join the mailing list

Page last modified: 09-02-2018 18:54:05 ZULU