Operation Lady Godiva
Test subject Lady Godiva
Operation Lady Godiva
AKA The Lady Godiva Test, The Lady Godiva Project
The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and Experimental Research Labs, abbreviated DCNPP&ERL
DCNPP&ERL project managers
The Lady Godiva Test
was a series of top secret United States Military
nuclear experiments conducted by the The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and Experimental Research Labs
(abbreviated DCNPP&ERL), from 1954-1959.
The radiation source within the Godiva device was a fissile metallic mass (usually highly enriched 235U),
about 11.8 inches (30 cm) in diameter. This was located in the chest of the subject, just under his sternum
. The burst of radiation was produced when control rods were quickly removed from the subject’s back, legs, and arms-forming a cavity. During this time, the chest pit formed a critical mass and a nuclear chain reaction was briefly sustained.
Depending on the type of rod removed, scientists were able to produce both low yield and high yield blasts.
Godiva's design was inspired by a self terminating property [further explanation needed]
discovered when incorrectly experimenting with other human pit
On 3 February 1959, accidental criticality excursions occurred causing damage to the device and near deadly exposures to personnel. The Lady Godiva, was irreparable, and forcibly relocated by The Experimental Civil Defense
in an emergency evacuation effort.
Post World War II, the United States Military funded various missile research projects. At the same time, the newly formed CIA was looking for ways to infiltrate target countries with concealed weapons. The idea for a ‘nuclear human’, ‘bomb human’, or ‘human pit’ followed soon after, the idea being that a spy could live in a target country with the threat of detonating. This was seen as the most effective way to assure the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Research into pit surgery began shortly after at various post Manhattan Project laboratories, including Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Diablo Canyon, and Idaho Falls National Laboratory.
Human pit development
Because acute radiation syndrome (ARS) is a fairly uncommon occurrence with less than a handful of civilian accidents, the human pit experiment test body was taken from two different volunteer groups:
1. Those participating in the Operation Crossroads detonation tests conducted in 1946 in the Marshall Islands, including soldiers, test personnel, and those part of the clean up effort post detonations. The DCNPP&ERL only considered individuals with ARS symptoms and known lethal exposures. Many participants in Operation Crossroads were presumed to have absorbed some amount of radiation, but were not considered if they were expected to recover from ARS.
2. A handful of lab personnel from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) suffering from ARS in lab criticality accidents in 1946, 1952, and 1961. These individuals make up a small percentage of the test body, but more is known about their exposures thanks to their familiarity with radioactivity and the availability of equipment to measure it.