Fifty years ago this month,
"For the past 70 years,
"As we celebrate our golden anniversary of space-based treaty verification, we remember not only our successes in our mission, but also how this mission has enabled scientific discovery," Wallace said. "Without a focus on national security, we could not continue to produce cutting-edge science; without our commitment to scientific excellence, we could not succeed in our mission. It is this synergy that makes Los Alamos a truly unique national treasure."
The first pair of Vela satellites launched on
The success of the Vela program marked the beginning of an enduring space-based treaty verification system that continues to enhance security for America and the rest of the world. Vela's sensors focused on basic detection of electromagnetic- and energetic-particle emissions associated with open nuclear weapons detonations. But they also enabled serendipitous discoveries of remarkable natural phenomena such as cosmic gamma-ray bursts, X-ray novae and solar wind composition. Modern space-based verification systems rely on sophisticated sensors that have not only helped keep the peace, but also continue to help explain the origins of poorly understood natural events such as terrestrial lightning.
During the past 50 years, some 200 space vehicles have been launched with Los Alamos payloads aboard. Many of these support on-going treaty-monitoring missions, while others are experiments designed to push the boundaries of what is considered state-of-the-art. Notable Los Alamos experimental missions include:
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