"Mike" Device is Tested

The first fusion bomb was tested by the United States in Operation Ivy on November 1, 1952, on Elugelab Island in the Enewatak Atoll of the Marshall Islands. Scientists had to work faster and harder in order the meet the short deadline to complete the weapon, but their work paid off when "Mike" was successfully completed on the target date. "Mike" used the Teller-Ulam configuration, liquid deuterium as its fusion fuel and a large fission weapon as its trigger. The device was strictly an experimental, prototype design and not a deliverable weapon: standing over 20 ft. high and weighing at least 140,000 lbs., with an additional 24,000 lbs. from its refrigeration equipment, it could not have been dropped from even the largest planes.

The MIKE device

The MIKE Device

Its explosion yielded 10.4 megatons of energy-over 450 times the power of the bomb dropped onto Nagasaki-and obliterated Elugelab, leaving an underwater crater 6,240 ft. wide and 164 ft. deep where the island had once been. Truman had initially tried to create a media blackout about the test-hoping it would not become an issue in the upcoming presidential election-but on January 7, 1953, Truman announced the development of the hydrogen bomb to the world as hints and speculations of it were already beginning to emerge in the press.

The MIKE Test

The MIKE test

The next task was building a deliverable thermonuclear weapon, which would require accumulating a sufficient quantity of lithium-6. The minimum required quantity of lithium-6 would not be stockpiled until 1954, delaying the project still further.

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