On the eve of the 71st anniversary of the USSR’s first atomic bomb test, the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom has released unpublished images of the detonation of the Tsar Bomba, the most powerful weapon ever created by humans.
The 40-minute documentary narrates how that October 30, 1961, was prepared and lived, when the Soviet Union detonated a 58-megaton nuclear weapon on a remote Arctic island. Known initially as Product 202 and later AN602 or the Soviet RDS-220 hydrogen bomb, the colossal size and power of this bomb earned it the nickname Tsar Bomba, the king of bombs.
To give an idea of its power, consider that the most powerful projectile in the US, used in the Castle Bravo test in 1952, had a maximum of 22 megatons. The bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945 was only 16 kilotons. In other words, the Tsar Bomba was about 3,625 times more powerful. Its incredible power comes from thermonuclear fusion, the same reaction that keeps the Sun burning.
The power of the Tsar Bomba was of such magnitude that its military use was not justified. Its detonation was intended to demonstrate the USSR’s ability to build weapons of unlimited power during the Cold War arms race. The scientific result was the experimental verification of the principles of calculation and design of multistage thermonuclear charges.
The published video details how the huge projectile was loaded for transport to the far north of Russia, where it arrived in the guise of a typical wagon at Olenya Air Base, south of the city of Murmansk. They also show how the ships and planes that had to record the detonation with cameras and tons of measuring equipment were prepared.
It also reflects the moment of detonation from different places.
Fortunately, the AN602 was never used in conflict or rebuilt such a powerful bomb, although Soviet engineers and scientists designed projects to build a bomb at least twice as powerful.