The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) 1,350-square-mile Nevada Test Site (NTS) is a massive outdoor laboratory larger than the state of Rhode Island and several small countries. This unique national asset, located about 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, is the second-largest civilian employer in the State of Nevada.
President Truman established the NTS in December 1950, as the nation's on-continent nuclear weapons testing area. Prior to 1950, most tests were conducted in the Pacific. This was costly, time-consuming, and logistically difficult.
The NTS was chosen because of its climate, remoteness, the low population density of the area, and the fact the adjoining Nellis Air Force Base Bombing and Gunnery Range to the west, north, and east of the site minimized risk to public safety while providing added security.
Initially the NTS, originally called the Nevada Proving Grounds, consisted of 680 square miles, about half its present size. Additional land was added in 1958, 1961, 1964, and 1967.
The first nuclear test at the NTS was on January 27, 1951. Prior to the beginning of the current moratorium which began in 1992, there have been 1054 nuclear tests conducted by the United States. Twenty-four of these tests were done jointly with the United Kingdom, and of the 1054 tests, 928 tests were conducted at the NTS.