The background to how this Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request played out is the most interesting part of this.

It started with seeing reference to the document in a bibliography about Air Force Plant 67, or the Georgia Nuclear Aircraft Laboratory.

The Georgia Nuclear Aircraft Laboratory, also known as AFP No. 67, for Air Force Plant 67 was a United States Air Force test facility located in the Dawson Forest in Dawsonville, Georgia. It was the site of Lockheed’s lab for investigating the feasibility of nuclear aircraft. The site was used for irradiating military equipment, as well as the forest to determine the effect of nuclear war, and its effects on wildlife. The area was closed in 1971 and acquired by the city of Atlanta for a second airport, but its topography was determined to be ill-suited for an airport. Documents explaining what went on at the site remain highly classified, and the entrance to the underground portion of the facility has been buried. The only objects left above ground were the concrete foundations on which the buildings and reactors were placed. (Source: Wikipedia)

I was informed that the document was controlled by NASA, and I should contact them to obtain it. So, in September of 2016, I did just that… never knowing how it would all play out.

I believe this may hold the record for how many times a SINGLE FOIA request was passed back and forth between agencies. In fact, in 9 months, this was the journey:


The oddest thing is that I was told by NASA they didn’t have the document – but when it was all over — the DOE told me it was NASA who gave it to them for review. Confused? Yeah, so was I!  I had to get The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) to help me with the request. Although I didn’t hear back from them directly, I assume they played a role in finally getting them to stop playing “hot potato.”

Now, on to the document.

According to the record:

In nuclear missile components, the combination of cryogenic temperatures resulting from the use of liquid hydrogen as the propellant fluid and nuclear radiation is expected to produce effects on the engineering properties of mnterials that are new both to materials engineers and to missile design engineers. Before reliable
systems can be designed, these effects on the properties of materials must be known.

To meet this requirement, Lockheed Nuclear Products outlines in this proposal to NASA a program for a study of the combined effects of nuclear radiation and cryogenic temperatures on the engineering properties of pertinent materials that may be used in the construction of nuclear missiles.

This proposal includes an analysis of the state-of-the-art relative to the effects of cryogenic temperatures, nuclear radiation, and low-temperature annealing on the engineering properties of materials. The rationale for choosing the temperatures, integrated radiation doses, radiation under stressed and unstressed conditions, materials, and specific tests to be used in the test program is presented.

These specific tests will include evaluation of engineering design characteristics and the determination of fundamental. properties of the materials of interest; these will be compared to give extrapolation of limited data. Conceptual designs and the basis for the selection are given for the cryostats, special test equipment
and instrumentation, and the refrigeration equipment. Presented also is a preliminary study of a method for reducing gamma heating and radioactivation in the reactor cryostat and virtually eliminating any perturbation of the reactor during Insertion or removal of cryostate from the reactor beam hole. Also included is a preliminary analysis of the factors that could possibly affect the safety of reactor operation. And a test program based on the concepts and equipment
discussed is presented. It includes materials to be tested, types and number of tests to be made, the number of specimens to be tested for each determination and the statistical basis for establishing this number, and the methods for preparation and selection of Individual test specimens. The capabilities of Lockheed Nuclear Products as the prime contractor and Arthur D. Little, Incorporated, as the major subcontractor include pertinent experience of the two companies,
resumes of the personnel available for the project, the project organization, and facilities available to the project. Furthermore, a schedule for the entire program is presented.

Document Archive

 Proposal Nuclear Radiation Effects on Materials at Cryogenic Temperatures, July 1959 [279 Pages, 46.1MB]

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