Operation CASTLE's 15 MT Bravo early fireball with Compton Effect lightning, March 1, 1954

Monday, January 6, 2014

Operation DOMINIC Nuclear Tests 1962, Section 1

Joint Task Force 8 was created as a military command structure for interservices participation in the DOMINIC I series.

DOMINIC I was assigned to Pacific Basin tests, while the II phase was conducted at what is now the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS/N2S2).

In the spinup toward, during, and after the Cuban Missile Crisis, 96 nuclear tests took place in 1962. Here are the numbers listed by related fiscal year operations:

34 NOUGAT: weapons development
36 DOMINIC I: weapons development, high altitude and underwater nuclear phenomena, delivery systems, tracking, and military effects
22 STORAX: weapons development and one overlapping PLOWSHARE excavation test called Sedan
4 SUNBEAM (DOMINIC II): tests of small tactical warheads, a mobile delivery system, their military effects, and troop maneuvers

All nuclear tests required the command approval of United States presidents in office during those operations.

The "better dead than red" Cold Warriors would be appalled at the left image.

Instrument trailers were pervasive during nuclear testing operations, for capturing valuable scientific data.

Weapon development airdrop tests were conducted off of Chistmas Island/Kiritimati, now part of the Republic of Kiribati, in the Line Islands group.

Compare to a third party posting, of the original color condition:

 Bureaucratic military "good to go" concept in action:

September 1961: Soviets resume testing with the greatest megatonnage series in history
October 24, 1962: film's stated activation of Joint Task Force 8 by presidential decree
April 1, 1962: targeted date for the beginning of testing in the Pacific theater
Early November 1962: DOMINIC I is completed

What? The date for activation should have been said as 24 October, 1961, within a month of Soviet nuclear resumption trials.

Local Gilbertese culture was briefly profiled. This woman was eating copra, a dietary staple of Micronesia.

This was on Christmas Island, at a military zone gate.

This was Operation DOMINIC I's Johnston Island aerospace command center, with the firing panel of the Thor test rockets. Los Alamos Test Director Dr. William E. Ogle (white shirt) and Maj. General Alfred Starbird are to the right. Lieutenant Commander P. Kwart (far right) was the Project Officer for Range Safety (RSO), who personally triggered firing of the missiles, and the warhead's asymmetric explosive destruction if the missile failed to reach the targeted burst altitude.

Notice the bright green artifact at the top right. These scenes are essentially rebuilt color, and they create defect colors in other zones, therefore demanding further treatment of the scene.

A Thor rocket waits for lift-off.

Recovery of a high altitude nuclear fireball environment instrument pod, among those launched by Thor rockets that also carried the nuclear warheads. Before detonations, these pods were released at specific altitudes below and near the bursts. These became radioactively hot during the thermonuclear explosion.

A Martin B-57 Canberra circles near a test site, as part of U.S. Air Force danger zone reconnaissance security.

53 Lockheed P2V-5F Neptunes, provided by the Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet, had many uses during DOMINIC I:
  1. Conduct searches of designated areas
  2. Detect, warn, and escort any unauthorized craft out of the danger area
  3. Assist in the collection of scientific data and provide radiological surveys
  4. Carry out SAR (search and rescue) assignments

A multimegaton droptest fireball rapidly rises at hundreds of kilometers per hour 30 mi/55 km south of Christmas Island. UPDATE: This was the Questa shot.

This is an early color test before spot, scratch, and noise removal.

Questa drop location:

Technicians were unloading crates on Christmas Island.

Standing 6' 5" (1.96 m) tall, U.S. Army Major General Alfred D. Starbird (second from the far right) was the supreme commander of Joint Task Force 8, responsible for executing the objectives and safety standards of Operation DOMINIC I, from April to November of 1962.

Learning among the lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis, military engineer Starbird was also assigned with directing the implementation of the world's first direct communication system between world leaders, between the White House and the Kremlin. This system is often called "the hotline," and since expanded to reach more than 40 foreign leaders.

Starbird was nearly involved in hostile incident with Soviet spies:

An Account of the Return to Nuclear Weapons Testing by the United States after the Test Moratorium
 William E. Ogle
October 1985

Thor rockets lofted all DOMINIC I high altitude test warheads, except for CHECKMATE (by XM-33 Strypi) and TIGHTROPE (in a Nike-Hercules). All these tests comprised Operation FISHBOWL.

Those black buildings were standard Thor liquid oxygen (left) and kerosene fuel valve (right) complexes.

In a magnified view from the same location as the scene immediately above, instrument pods hang from the Thor missile.

Aerospace engineer Maxwell Hunter was the chief designer of the Thor, Nike-Ajax, Hercules, Sparrows I, II, and III, and others. 

Thor specifications:
Length: 64 ft. 10 in. (19.76 m)
Diameter: 8 ft. 0 in. (2.44 m)
Weight: 109, 330 lbs. (49, 591 kg mass) at launch
Armament: Nuclear warhead
Engine: Rocketdyne liquid-propellant
Thrust:: 150,000 lbs. thrust (667, 233 Newtons)
Cost: $660,000

(Motor Vessel) MV Acania was moored in Pago Pago, American Samoa, near the southern geomagnetic conju- gate point. Its mission was to record measurements of cosmic noise attenuation due to high altitude nuclear weapons bursts.

  Courtesy of Wikipedia

The magnetic and geographic poles are not in the same orientations, and the N-S magnetic poles continually, slowly wander over far northern Canada and Antarctica. This angular difference between geographic and magnetic poles is called the magnetic declination.

Magnetic conjugate points of a high altitude nuclear test were regions of careful studies.

Beta particles -- free electrons created during nuclear fission or natural electroweak interaction decay of neutrons -- oscillate back and forth at nearly the speed of light along these lines of magnetic force, until finally absorbed by ionized gases in the upper atmosphere.

High above the atmosphere there is little to no gas to quickly absorb these fast electrons.

Energetic, charged particles give off electromagnetic energy if their trajectories are significantly changed by a magnetic field. Spiralling around lines of magnetic force fields in the high atmosphere or space (≥ 62 miles/100 km), particles including beta electrons can emit large amounts of energy in the form of an electromagnetic pulse. These massive electrical currents also produce moving magnetic fields that can damage electrical systems, including power grids below, as well as severely disrupt long range communications and radar tracking. The lengths of the oscillation pathways also hugely increase at much higher altitudes, threatening entire continents.

The MV Acania is now in a restoration process by a private owner.

Note in the History section of the restorer's website, the records of the Acania between 1957 and 1985 are a complete mystery to the restoration team and owner. ;-)

The RSO fired the rockets from a simple toggle switch control panel.

TIGERFISH was a non-nuclear rehearsal for flight testing the Thor rocket, and complex recovery operations of the fireball data-collecting external pods.

High altitude nuclear tests were run during the darkness of night.

Thor TIGERFISH liftoff took place on May 1, 1962. Starting April 26, 1962, in the days leading to the TIGERFISH launch, while fixing problems with the pods, there were half-hour practice countdowns twice daily.

To avoid losing pods, each included a radio beacon, a flashing light, and a green dye.

A 400 pound (180 kg) instrument pod was photographed about the USS Grapple (ARS-7) during a recovery operation, after a high altitude shot:

Operation DOMINIC I 1962
DNA 6040F

Operation DOMINIC I 1962
DNA 6040F

Flag Plot is the supreme commander's operational planning, navigation, and tactical control center. Located aboard the USS Princeton (LPH-5), seen here were Maj. General Starbird, his technical operations deputy, Air Force Lt. Colonel George Kallis, an unidentified senior scientific team member, and Dr. William Ogle, (seated at the far right) Operation DOMINIC I's top Los Alamos J-7 Division scientific commander (the test director).

Minor color details need to be corrected such as the blue bordering and green.