The Grand Experiment at Inyokern — History of the Naval Weapons Center, China Lake, California
“From its original status as an activity that supported a wartime contract, China Lake evolved into a command with an exceptionally broad span of capabilities. This change had been foreseen for some time by leaders of the Bureau of Ordnance who realized that the naval establishment needed a permanent center for the development of advanced weapons.
China Lake was involved in the full spectrum of research, development, and pilot production of these weapons, as well as guided missiles, underwater ordnance, and other systems.
The Navy additionally assumed from CalTech the management of Salt Wells Pilot Plant that through the postwar years continued to provide components for the nuclear weapons being produced by the Manhattan Project and its successor, the Atomic Energy Commission.
Students of effective organization will be impressed by the short and direct lines of
communication that allowed the Bureau of Ordnance to take a wide range of initiatives in developing China Lake with a minimum of reviews by other layers of government.
JOHN D. H. KANE, JR., RADM, USN (Ret.)
Director of Naval History and
Curator for the Navy Department
This is the largest known concentration of petroglyphs in the western hemisphere and is located on the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake. Public access is permitted to the petroglyphs that are located in lower Renegade Canyon
“Here and there we pass white domes that house instruments used for testing rockets and bombs. Roads head off to nowhere. The desert might seem barren and exposed, but its inhospitable vastness offers obscurity, sanctuary”.
The area was once also home to the Native American Coso People, whose proof of presence here is marked by thousands of archaeological sites
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“It was in this environment that C.F. Austin of the China Lake Naval Ordnance Test Station proposed the Rock-Site concept: manned undersea installations excavated into the rock of the seafloor.”
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“A 1971 study discussed various methods of sea-floor excavation, but by then most man-in-the-sea development was classified. By applying well-understood principles employed for decades by the mining industry, Austin proposed that large bases could be constructed and operated anywhere suitable bedrock occurred in the ocean, at any depth.
Structures within the sea floor can easily be made large and comfortable enough to permit the quartering of crews and their families for extended periods of time.
In the 1970s the Los Alamos National Lab investigated an atomic rock-drilling concept called the Nuclear Subterrene.
rather than drill through rock, the atomic subterrene would use heat from a nuclear reactor to melt through it, digging wider tunnels faster and more efficiently than a conventional Tunnel-Boring Machine.
The most promising application, however, seemed to be geothermal energy. The subterrene could be used to dig deep into the Earth’s crust, to where the rock is heated by the mantle. Unlike a conventional drilling machine, since the subterrene worked by melting its way through
What is being tested at China Lake, Calif, to cause this notice?
“What is being tested at China Lake, Calif, to cause this notice? Here is a warning for GPS interruption over quite a wide range: GPS Interference Notam For Southwest — Any ideas as to what is being tested? For what purpose? To be used where?”
“The testing centered at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division based in China Lake, Calif., could affect aircraft at least 50 feet off the ground within hundreds of miles of the base to as high as 40,000 feet above sea level nearly 550 miles away.”
“Well, if it is going to be interrupting GPRS navigation systems, then whatever it is must be some kind of electronic warfare gear. It could be that they are testing a method for preventing satellite data from reaching ground stations”