29.08.

1949: Stalin Tests his First Atomic Bomb (“First Lightning”)

1949: Stalin Tests his First Atomic Bomb (“First Lightning”)

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 29 August 1949
  • On this day in 1949, the first Soviet atomic bomb was tested at the Soviet nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk (today’s Kazakhstan).

On this day in 1949, the Soviet Union tested its first nuclear bomb.

It represented the end of the American nuclear monopoly. Namely, from 1945 to 1949, the USA had been the only world’s country that developed nuclear weapons.

In 1949, the USSR developed its nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom did that in 1952, and France in 1960. Today, many countries possess nuclear weapons.

The first Soviet test was codenamed “RDS-1” and named “First Lightning” (Russian: Первая молния). The force of the explosion was about 22 kilotons (little more than the bombs which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki). The explosion was carried out at the Soviet nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk (today’s Kazakhstan).

About 50 aircraft were located in the vicinity of the test site in order to see the impact of the explosion. The Soviets even built improvised houses, bridge, and something akin to a station, which was supposed to measure the impact of the explosion. About 1,500 animals were exposed to very high levels of radiation.

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