History

General Atomics (GA) was founded in 1955 as a division of General Dynamics, GA and its affiliated companies now constitute one of the world's leading resources for high technology solutions ranging from the nuclear fuel cycle to electromagnetic systems, remotely operated aircraft, airborne sensors and advanced electronic, wireless and laser technologies.

GA carries out the largest and most successful fusion program in industry. Its TRIGA® research reactors have been operating safely around the world for more than 50 years. The company is currently developing the groundbreaking Energy Multiplier Module, EM2, a compact, fast, waste-burning reactor.

From its original charter to explore peaceful uses of atomic energy, GA drew leading scientists who formed the nucleus of a thriving company that continues to attract leaders in science and engineering. Today, total staff numbers more than 15,000 people worldwide.

July 1955

July 1955

General Dynamics creates the General Atomic (GA) Division of General Dynamics for research and development in the peaceful uses of atomic energy

June 1956

June 1956

Summer symposium begins with GA's initial scientific staff and visiting summer consultants to define GA's first projects. These include the inherently safe TRIGA® research reactor, the High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor, and controlled fusion research.

May 1957

May 1957

GA and the Texas Atomic Energy Research Foundation begin a four-year, $10,000,000 research program in controlled fusion.

July 1958

July 1958

The Advanced Research Projects Agency announces start of Project Orion at GA, a new space propulsion concept using controlled nuclear explosions to drive a large space vehicle into deep space.

September 1958

September 1958

A TRIGA® research reactor, sponsored by the Atomic Energy Commission, operates at the Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in Switzerland.

November 1958

November 1958

Philadelphia Electric Co. and more than 40 other utility companies propose building a 40-MWe prototype High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor (HTGR) at Peach Bottom, PA.

November 1961

November 1961

GA introduces the Magneform® metalworking machine, a byproduct of controlled fusion research.

January 1962

January 1962

Peach Bottom HTGR research and development program includes graphite fuel element development, nuclear physics design, component fabrication and testing, and post-irradiation examinations.

May 1962

May 1962

Research on reverse osmosis for saline water conversion begins in a project sponsored by the Department of the Interior's Office of Saline Water.

February 1971

February 1971

GA introduces Pyrolite® medical carbon for artificial heart valves, a byproduct of fuel development for the high temperature gas-cooled reactor.

May 1974

May 1974

AEC selects GA to build the Doublet III magnetic fusion experiment in San Diego, based on the success of earlier Doublet I and II magnetic confinement experiments.

February 1978

February 1978

Doublet III fusion machine achieves its first plasma conditions at GA. The machine was later upgraded and renamed DIII-D.

March 1982

March 1982

GA's chemical agent munitions demilitarization development project begins for the U.S. Army, using the cryofracture process.

August 1988

August 1988

GA's modular high temperature gas-cooled reactor is selected for the Department of Energy's New Production Reactor program.

April 1989

April 1989

Applied SuperConetics celebrates production of the 100th commercial superconducting magnet for medical resonance imaging. The group was later acquired by Toshiba America Medical Systems.

August 1994

August 1994

The first Predator® unmanned aerial vehicle is flown at GA's flight test facility at El Mirage, CA. GA rolls out the prototype within six months of receiving Pentagon contract to demonstrate an advanced concept unmanned aerial vehicle.

August 1999

August 1999

The Lynx® synthetic aperture radar is unveiled by GA and Sandia National Laboratories for use on both manned aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles.

January 2000

January 2000

Diazyme Laboratories becomes a biotechnology division of GA. Diazyme will apply proprietary enzyme technology to develop rapid detection methods for small molecules in biological samples for clinical diagnostic and pharmaceutical uses

January 2004

January 2004

GA Aeronautical Systems flies first pre-production version of the Predator B, soon to be known as the Reaper®. Predator B will conduct quick trainsit, long endurance missions in support of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and weapons delivery missions.

April 2004

April 2004

Navy chooses GA for system development and demonstration of the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), scheduled for use on its next-generation aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald Ford. The project benefits from skills developed under GA's fusion research program -- both programs require precise control of the discharge of large amounts of pulsed power.

August 2005

August 2005

GA and its Team Warrior partners awarded contracts for the system development and demonstration phase of the Army's Extended Range Multi-Purpose UAV program.

June 2008

June 2008

A Terex MT6300 mine-haul truck is operated with a GA Power Inverters' drive system at a syncrude mine in the tar sands of Alberta. The 400-ton payload machine is one of the highest payload class trucks in the world.

February 2009

February 2009

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announces delivery of its sixth Predator B Unmanned Aircraft System. The aircraft will operate from Sierra Vista, AZ.

April 2009

April 2009

GA Aeronautical Systems' next-generation Predator C Avenger® makes its first flight. The aircraft has higher operational and transit speeds and provides expanded quick-response and armed reconnaissance capability.

September 2009

September 2009

First demonstration of the GA designed and manufactured Blitzer™ electromagnetic railgun.

March 2010

March 2010

GA announces the Energy Multiplier Module (EM2), a small version of the Gas Turbine Modular Helium Reactor. EM2 will utilize nuclear waste to produce energy.

December 2010

December 2010

GA celebrates the first launch of an aircraft from the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) installed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.