REPORT OF THE MANAGER SANTA FE OPERATIONS U.S. ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION JULY 1950 TO JANUARY 1954 (DELETED)
Author: TYLER C L
1. JULY 1947 TO JULY 1950
The newly-created Atomic Energy Commission took over responsibility for the
atomic energy program on January 1, 1947. On July 2 the Office of Santa Fe Directed
Operations (nowSanta Fe Operations Office) was established to administer the atomic
weapons field program. Two weeks later, the present Manager of SFOO arrived at Los
Alamos to be the first civilian manager of the project.
In mid-1947, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, assisted by a small Sandia Branch,
was carrying the major weight of weapons manufacture. There was some production of
mechanical components at the Army’s Rock Island (Ill. ) Arsenal. The Salt Wells Pilot
Plant of Naval Ordnance Test Station, Inyokern, California, was producing high explosives.
There was little participation by private industry. Two weapons types were
being produced in extremely limited quantity. Units going into stockpile were laboratory-
fabricated. The limited production chain had only one source for each major component.
Three major modifications of one Mark weapon were in early development,
The SFOO assignment at the beginning of its operations represented a tremendous
undertaking. It was required to build the mandatory physical plant and organization,
while at the same time assuring continuous production of weapons, and maintaining basic
and applied research for development of more powerful, more varied, or more efficient
weapons. The scope and priority of initial assignment were direct reflections of the
To build and develop at Los Alamos, the heart of the program, a community
that would be adequate to obtain and to retain the type of personnel
required. This meant rebuilding and expanding the community.
To provide a climate in which LASL could proceed with its job of basic
nuclear research and development, and to provide a Technical Area physical
plant adequate for the job.
To organize and supervise an ordnance development, production, and
testing complex, relieving LASL of these responsibilities.
To expand production and facilities at other sites, in order to achieve
a continuous flow of component parts.
To evolve an organization competent to achieve basic management and
Approximately two and one-half peacetime years provided a relatively secure period
unhampered by wartime expediencies, during which programs could be adequately
planned and activated. The value of time for orderly development of a basic SF0 structure
was underwritten by national and international events near the end of the period. In
the Autumnof 1949 Russia tested an atomic weapon, and SF0 moved immediately out of
its “peace-time” period into one of increased mission urgency and of “crash” programs.
This was intensified in early 1950 with the decision to go all out on thermonuclear weapon
development. It was further intensified three days before the end of the reporting period
by the outbreak of the Korean War.