This Is How The U.S. Makes Sure Its Nuclear Weapons Are 'Safe'

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Sandia National Labs is involved in some pretty intense science. Researchers there mainly focus on developing and researching non-nuclear components for America’s arsenal and have been, in some fashion, since Truman was president. They are experts in the delicate art of things that blow up.

Like this Reverse Ballistics Impact Test, which a creepy, emotionless female voice reminds us is being preformed “...using an inert unit, to ensure our Nation’s nuclear weapons are safe, secure, and reliable.” The point of it is to make sure nothing would go wrong if an American nuke were to, say, go flying at a wall at humongous speeds (of course, it’s very silly to declare something like a nuke, which can kill millions instantly, as ever “safe”).

But because it’s easier to record test data if the nuke itself doesn’t move, Sandia moves the wall instead. By hooking it up to a set of Nike rockets.


Luckily, the test was a success, but Sandia makes sure there isn’t an actual nuke in the casing before it goes through with it:

Yeah. Okay then. I feel more confident already. Just launching a concrete and steel plug using 200,000 pounds of thrust on a sled at an inert weapon of mass destruction. The over dramatic music, creepy voice over and hard, mean font with smoke billowing in the background are there just to add to the certainty that there is nothing super-villainous involved here. Nope. None at all.

“At these impact speeds, almost nothing remains,” though our future robotic leader calmly and flatly assures us that the test was a success, and that all data was gathered. For that is what truly matters.

Managing Editor of Jalopnik.

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Erm, there’s no way the sled goes 200,000mph. That number is the pounds of thrust the rockets deliver.