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Focus on Cesta

Aquitaine Scientific and Technical Research Center (Cesta)


The design office plays a central role in the design of nuclear weapons. © CEA

Located since 1965 in the commune of Le Barp, between Bordeaux and Arcachon, and employing a workforce of 970 people, the primary goal of Cesta is to ensure the industrial architecture of the weapons of France's nuclear deterrent force. This responsibility runs from the design stage through to the final supply of nuclear warheads for defense purposes.

Cesta is supported in all of these activities by exceptional scientific and technological resources, without the component nuclear parts of the weapons ever being present on the site itself. With this mission, the Cesta has acquired significant skills in conducting large-scale physical experiments in several areas specific to these weapons systems.

Cesta is a major participant in the Simulation Program set up within the Military Applications Division (DAM). It is home to the Megajoule Laser (LMJ), which will be commissioned in late 2014. Its prototype, the Laser integration line (LIL), was commissioned in 2002 and has achieved its objective.


The Camelia anechoic chamber is one of the largest in Europe The Latecoere centrifuge is used to assess weapons systems
LEFT - The Camelia anechoic chamber is one of the largest in Europe. RIGHT - The Latecoere centrifuge is used to assess weapons systems. © CEA

The LMJ will make a considerable contribution to the Aquitaine region

Inside the LMJ. © CEA

The LMJ will provide France's Aquitaine region with an exceptional research facility found nowhere else in the world except California. In addition to being used for CEA's own needs, this laser will be made available to the scientific community for a significant part of its operating time. It will open up new avenues of research for the study of stars in the laboratory and of materials under extreme conditions of temperature and pressure.

Packed with high technology, this large laser offers the opportunity for local industrial development in fields such as optics and scientific instrumentation. Bordeaux and its region has just as much scientific and technological appeal as other major clusters around the world.

The environment

Monitoring of the site and its environment.
Monitoring on and around the site. © CEA

As at any center operated by CEA, Cesta stringently and systematically monitors the environment in and around its site. All samples and measurements are conducted by the Institut Européen de l’Environnement de Bordeaux (I2EB), an independent environmental analysis company certified by Cofrac, the French committee for laboratory accreditation).

Cesta reports its operations to various regulatory bodies, particularly the DSND (representative in charge of nuclear safety and radiation protection for defense-related activities and facilities) and the prefects of the Gironde and Landes departments.

MàJ: 21/11/2014
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