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Friday, January 15th, 2021

Facility expands weapons modernization testing capacity

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Sandia National Laboratories personnel are espousing the benefits of its Sandia Programs Engineering and Assembly Research (SPEAR) facility, which officials said would expand weapons modernization testing capacity.

Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration and Department of Energy’s under secretary for nuclear security, recently joined Sandia National Laboratories Deputy Labs Director Dori Ellis and other Sandia leadership for a tour of the newest facility in nuclear weapons systems engineering in California.

“This new facility presents an exciting opportunity for Sandia’s nuclear weapons modernization programs,” Gordon-Hagerty said. “The SPEAR facility represents a significant investment in Sandia’s weapons-systems engineering capability in California that will be critical to meeting the hardware delivery demands of our partners across the nuclear security enterprise.”

The 10,000-square-foot venue is equipped with a laboratory for functional electrical testing of weapons assemblies. The lab features thermal chambers enabling engineers to perform electrical tests at simulated environment temperatures.

Comprehensive data from tests performed at the SPEAR facility allow systems engineers to determine if weapons systems meet Department of Defense requirements and refine the hardware.

“We wanted to both increase capacity and continue the high level of rigor with which we assemble our nuclear weapons systems, and that required an investment in a new facility,” Mike Hardwick, systems engineering director at Sandia’s California site, said. “The nuclear weapons modernization programs have a large workload for development tests and qualification tests. In partnership with our test assembly facility in New Mexico, the SPEAR facility will enable us to handle the growing demands of these programs.”