History of the Institute

Created on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 10:15

The second nuclear weapon center of the Soviet Union (currently RFNC-VNIITF) was established in April 1955 to facilitate nuclear weapons development, create a backup option in case of a new war, and provide competitive environment for operations of the two centers.

The place for the future institute was found deep in the country on the Eastern side of Ural mountains almost equidistant from Ekaterinburg (then Sverdlovsk) and Chelyabinsk. A new city was located on the southern bank of Sinara lake and known as Chelyabinsk-70, its current  name is Snezhinsk. Sokol settlement located 20 km to the North from Chelyabinsk-40 (now Ozersk, location of Mayak Chemical Combine) became an initial point of the construction. Mayak Combine produced was making components of nuclear explosives and had good construction facilities that could be used for construction of Snezhinsk and the Institute.

Laboratory “B” of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs  was located in Sokol settlement in 1946-1955. This laboratory purscied radiation biology studies. Some employees of laboratory were later hired by the Institute.

Construction activities were underway in parallel with the formation of the Institute structure: buildings for laboratories and production facilities as well as residential buildings were erected at the Institute sites, roads and supply lines were laid out. The first buildings both at the Institute setes and in the residential area were commissioned in 1957. Population of the city reached ca. 20 thousand people already in May 1960. Currently population is ca. 50 thousand and total number of the Institute employees is ca. 9 thousand.

The place for RFNC-VNIITF was very good in many aspects. Major facilities of the Russian nuclear weapons industry were concentrated in the Urals. This has contributed to the successful cooperation between these facilities in the of weapons development and production and later in the conversion programs. Proximity to the most important centers of industry and culture, Ekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk, faciliated successful development of the Institute and the city and later helped to survive difficult times. Cooperation of the Institute and the city with other Russian centers of science and culture was successful? as well.

Dmitry Efimovich Vasiliev, who got a very good experience as engineer and manager when working at the huge Uralmash plant and other weapons production facilities, was appointed Director of the new Institute.

Kirill Ivanovich Shchelkin, three times Hero of Socialist Labor and winner of the Lenin Prize and three State Prizes, was appointed first Scientific Director and Chief Designer. He ivested great efforts in making a creative team of scientists and engineers. His authority and personal experience were a great input to the first accomplishments of the Institute, which were an obvious success.

Specialists from the first nuclear center (now RFNC-VNIIEF, Sarov), and some facilities of nuclear and other industries backbone of the Institute staff. Such outstanding scientists and engineers as Evgeny Zababakhin, Alexander Zakharenkov, Vladimir Grechishnikov, Yury Romanov, Lev Feoktistov, Evgeny Avrorin, Boris Litvinov, Mikhail Shumaev and Nikolay Yanenko may be listed here. Besides the best graduates of physics and mathematics departments from the leading UUSR Universitieswere hired by the Institute.

A young team of the institute was quickly gaining strength. The first USSR thermonuclear explosive accepted by the army, was developed and tested by the employees of the Institute in 1957. The first explosion for experimental purposes was successfully conducted the same year at the Novaya Zemlya Test Site which allowed unique fundamental studies of extreme states of matter and highly intensive dynamic processes.