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Title: Historic American engineering record. Nevada national security site, Bren Tower Complex. Written historical and descriptive data and field records

The BREN (Bare Reactor Experiment, Nevada) Tower Complex is significant for its role in the history of nuclear testing, radiation dosimetry studies, and early field testing of the Strategic Missile Defense System designs. At the time it was built in 1962, the 1,527 ft (465 m) BREN Tower was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River and exceeded the height of the Empire State Building by 55 ft (17 m). It remains the tallest ever erected specifically for scientific purposes and was designed and built to facilitate the experimental dosimetry studies necessary for the development of accurate radiation dose rates for the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The tower was a key component of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission’s (ABCC) mission to predict the health effects of radiation exposure. Moved to its current location in 1966, the crucial dosimetry studies continued with Operation HENRE (High Energy Neutron Reactions Experiment). These experiments and the data they generated became the basis for a dosimetry system called the Tentative 1965 Dose or more commonly the T65D model. Used to estimate radiation doses received by individuals, the T65D model was applied until the mid-1980s when it was replaced by a new dosimetry systemmore » known as DS86 based on the Monte Carlo method of dose rate calculation. However, the BREN Tower data are still used for verification of the validity of the DS86 model. In addition to its importance in radiation heath effects research, the BREN Tower Complex is also significant for its role in the Brilliant Pebbles research project, a major component of the Strategic Defense Initiative popularly known as the “Star Wars” Initiative. Instigated under the Reagan Administration, the program’s purpose was to develop a system to shield the United States and allies from a ballistic missile attack. The centerpiece of the Strategic Defense System was space-based, kinetic-kill vehicles. In 1991, BREN Tower was used for the tether tests of the Brilliant Pebbles prototype vehicle at the earth’s surface prior to the more costly space testing program. The success of these tests established the Brilliant Pebbles program as an essential component of America’s space-based missile defense system even after the dismantling of the Soviet Union. Data from the Brilliant Pebbles research program continues to inspire current missile defense system research (Independent Working Group 2009).« less
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. Desert Research Institute, Las Vegas, NV (United States)
  2. Carey & Co Inc., San Francisco, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Desert Research Institute, Las Vegas, NV (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States