The plan was outlined in a document acquired by the Federation of American Scientists, which outlines a study Sandia conducted. The results? A new way, potentially, of powering military drones.
“As a result of this effort, UAVs were to be able to provide far more surveillance time and intelligence information per mission while reducing the high cost of support activities,” the report noted. “This technology was intended to create unmatched global capabilities to observe and preempt terrorist and weapon of mass destruction (WMD) activities.”
Essentially, the tech allowed for “ultra-persistent” drone flight that didn’t require traditional fuels. As the FAS points out, the study doesn’t ever say “nuclear,” but all of the giveaways are there: “decommissioning and disposal” wouldn’t be issues otherwise.
So what happened? “It was disappointing to all that the political realities would not allow use of the results,” Sandia laments. The lab gave up on nuclear drones due to political pressures, perceived or otherwise. “No near-term benefit to industry or the taxpayer will be encountered as a result of these studies.”
Sandia’s design for the four-inch-long bullet includes an optical sensor in the nose to detect a laser beam on a target. The sensor sends information to guidance and control electronics that use an algorithm in an eight-bit central processing unit to command electromagnetic actuators. These actuators steer tiny fins that guide the bullet to the target.
“It’s not that I wanted to be real green, though I like being green,” Axness said one recent morning as the sun beat down on a layer of snow blanketing his neighborhood four miles northeast of Intel’s Sandoval County computer chip plant. Behind him, solar panels tapped into the morning sun’s energy while the steady drips from the metal roof slowly filled the cisterns that surround the spacious home.
The cisterns are Axness’ practical solution to a quintessentially Rio Rancho problem. The lot is located in that sprawling, platted part of the city’s suburban edge that did not have water lines. Axness bought years ago, and expected a water line would be extended past the property by the time he was ready to build on it. When that did not happen, he realized he was faced with a cost of more than $50,000 to install pipe to get city water to his house, so he began exploring the alternatives.
In 2005 I found a cool framed illustration at Goodwill. It was marked for $16 but was on sale for $8. Other than being a “Electron Beam Propagation Experiment” my google searches tell me this is some sort of weapon made at Sandia Labs. The original frame has been replaced since it broke (it was ugly and damaged anyway).
Score! I’ve been researching pulsed power experiments at Sandia, and I just stumbled across mention of the RADLAC machine. RADLAC was built for the USAF & the SDIO to evaluate ultra-high-power, pulsed electron beam accelerators as potential “Star Wars” directed energy weapons.
Wanna sell it? 🙂
Heck no I don’t want to sell it, it’s one of my favorite pictures.