This sign says: “Failure Is Not An Option. ”
The origin of that quote is in some dispute. It had been attributed to Gene Kranz, the mission director of the Apollo 13 moon landing mission, until he denied it. Regardless, I adopted this as my mantra more than two decades ago when I was a commander of a combat unit, preparing to deploy at the beginning of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. I’ve used it as one of my guiding principles in every subsequent job.
At Los Alamos, I continue to use that mantra to guide the work of the National Security Research Center, the Lab’s classified library and curator of unclassified legacy materials.
The past few years have been a time of unprecedented growth for the NSRC. We’ve increased our staff by over 50 percent, stood up new digitizing labs, significantly expanded our collections, produced historical documentaries, and even started writing historical nonfiction books. We’ve also pioneered the use of artificial intelligence machine learning technologies to help index and catalog our digital collections. This technology is now being evaluated for use at other national labs.
We work closely with our customers at the Lab and across the Nuclear Security Enterprise to find the material they need to support their critical mission work. Our customers have told us the information housed in the NSRC’s collections has saved the National Nuclear Security Administration hundreds of millions of dollars in its charge to ensure the U. S. maintains a safe, secure, and reliable nuclear stockpile.
Additionally, the NSRC has forged new partnerships with organizations inside the Lab’s Weapons Program, our sister labs and sites, offices inside the NNSA, and organizations within the Department of Defense. Each partnership was built to enhance the work conducted within the Nuclear Security Enterprise for the benefit of our nation.
Needless to say, the NSRC staff were critical to every one of these successes and each of them, wittingly or unwittingly, lived up to the mantra “Failure Is Not An Option. ”
This new edition of The Vault is another example of our staff’s relentless drive to produce high-quality products. This is the third year we developed this annual magazine. Each volume of The Vault is a labor of love. We do it because we see this as part of our job as stewards of the Lab’s history — and because failure in this critical role is not an option.
I truly hope you enjoy reading this magazine as much as we enjoyed producing it for you. 🔎
Director National Security Research Center