From Sandia National Laboratories “Lab News”, July 26, 1991:
Tonopah Test Range (TTR) is a DOE facility operated by Sandia primarily for DOE funded weapons programs. Tests for other agencies, particularly DoD, are conducted on a reimbursable basis.
A major portion of TTR’s DOE work is development testing. A typical test might involve dropping a bomb body from a plane to check its aerodynamic characteristics or the operation of its parachute. During such a development test, the plane flies onto the range and the pilot is given a signal for when to drop the test unit – the point is how well the hardware performs, not whether the crew can hit the target.
In another major portion of TTR operation, in support of stockpile testing, both people and hardware undergo tests. A weapon is removed from stockpile, modified for testing, and loaded aboard an aircraft just as if it were a real mission. The plane flies from its base to TTR; once given the go-ahead, the crew releases the weapon without a drop signal. The controller at TTR interferes only if necessary for safety. Both the accuracy and the performance of the weapon, such as functioning of parachute and fuse, are then evaluated.
TTR conducts about 250 tests a year, including drop tests and other types of operations such as tests of artillery shells, earth penetrators propelled from downward firing Davis guns, and rocket launches.
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