The Sandia National Laboratory (SNL) has successfully conducted a full-scale crash test of a semi-trailer that will be used to transport nuclear weapons within the United States,media New Atlas reported. Mobile Guardian Transporter vehicles were tested at SNL’s Rocket Sled Test Site in New Mexico in June, and a second fully loaded semi-trailer was hit by a rocket pushing at high speed into the transporter.
Due to the nature of the U.S. defense industry, the development, construction, testing, stockpiling and deployment of nuclear weapons are widely distributed in the 48 states under its jurisdiction. This is done for a variety of political, economic, practical and security reasons, but this means that the U.S. Department of Energy and the Department of Defense need to rely on specially designed transport aircraft to protect weapons and materials from hijacking and accidents.
To replace the Safeguard, the National Nuclear Safety Administration is developing the Mobile Guardian Transporter for the National Nuclear Safety Administration, which is expected to remain in service until the 2050s. In this project, engineers refused to develop existing designs, but adopted new methods, resulting in the laboratory’s first collision test in 20 years.
In tests 20 years ago, the transporter hit an immobile barrier. This time, the prototype vehicle equipped with sensors remained stationary while another truck fired at it to produce a more realistic accident simulation and determine whether the new transporter would be able to secure the weapons cargo. The first prototype took 13 months to build and another six months to install electronics before standard environmental tests were carried out to withstand extreme temperatures of hot and cold, as well as road travel and vibration tests.
During the crash test, the transporter’s sensors processed more than 400 channels of data and video, including high-speed video. Such wide sensor coverage is necessary because only three prototypes need to be created before production can begin.
“Transport missions are a key component of an effective nuclear deterrent,” said Jim Redmond, senior manager for the project at Sandia National Laboratory. “It provides the American public and our allies with the assurance they need to keep our inventory safe and secure. You have to be able to ship nuclear assets safely and reliably, or you don’t have a deterrence program. “