Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Citizen Kurchatov: Stalin's Bomb Maker

 

America's Hydrogen Bomb

Two years after the first Soviet test, an improved version of the atomic bomb was detonated at Semipalatinsk on September 24, 1951. It was about half the size of the first bomb, but produced twice the power. Less than a month later, the Soviets tested another bomb dropped from an airplane.

The United States was worried that they were losing their lead over the Soviets. Research in the United States to advance nuclear weapons slowed after the war ended. Many of the scientists returned to their jobs in academics and research.

After the two tests in the Soviet Union, named Joe-1 and Joe-2 by the Americans, the United States stepped up their commitment to developing the H-bomb. It was decided to use the design proposed by Teller and Ulam.

Fuchs had given the Soviets information on the early stages of American and British H-bomb designs, and Zeldovich's team had based their designs on these ideas. However, Sakharov's design was completely Soviet.

On November 1, 1952, the United States detonated the first hydrogen device, code named "Mike," near the island of Elugelab in the Eniwetok Atoll. It yielded 10.4 megatons, over five hundred times more explosive than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The island of Elugelab was completely wiped away, leaving a crater over one mile wide.

 

1950
Klaus Fuchs was arrested for espionage in England in January.

  Next: Stalin's Regime Ends
Previous: The Layer Cake
NEH
Site Index Home Good of Mankind Cold War Stalin's Regime Ends America's Hydrogen Bomb The Layer Cake Super Bomb Atomic Powers Arzamas-16 A New Weapon Nuclear Secrets Revolution