News & AnalysisU.S. FUSION RESEARCH

NIF Report Asks for More Time to Achieve Ignition

Science  21 Dec 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6114, pp. 1519
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6114.1519

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Summary

When the National Ignition Facility (NIF) went into full operation in 2009, the facility's managers confidently predicted achieving ignition—a self-sustaining fusion reaction that produces excess energy—before the end of fiscal year 2012. Now, NIF faces an uncertain future after its managers admitted to Congress that they need at least another 3 years to try to identify what has prevented the giant laser fusion lab in California from achieving ignition. NIF officials have not attempted to set a new goal, and supporters say that uncertainty shouldn't count against NIF.