Sciences Program to take the steps leading to the expeditious construction of a burning plasma experiment” and that “funds for a burning plasma experiment should arise as an addition to the base Fusion Energy Sciences budget.”2 The report suggested that the program should establish what the panel called “a proactive U.S. plan on burning plasma experiments.”3 To that end, the report said, a workshop should be held for the critical scientific and technological examination of proposed burning plasma experimental designs and to provide crucial community input and endorsement to the planning activities undertaken by FESAC. Specifically, the report said, the workshop “should determine which of the specific burning plasma options are technically viable but should not select among them” and “confirm that a critical mass of fusion scientists believe that the time to proceed is now and not some undefined time in the future.”4 The panel also suggested that the DOE charge FESAC with the mission of forming an “action” panel to select among the technically viable burning plasma experimental options and initiate a review by a National Research Council panel with the goal of determining the desirability as well as the scientific and technological credibility of the burning plasma experiment design by the fall of 2003.
In summary, the panel believed that “understanding burning plasmas would be an immense physics accomplishment of wide scientific significance and would be a huge step toward the development of fusion energy.”5 The panel suggested a course of action that it believed would enable the presentation of an optimal burning plasma experimental plan to the nation no later than July 2004.
Following the FESAC plan, a fusion summer study was organized in Snowmass, Colorado, to take place July 8-19, 2002. The study carried out a critical assessment of major next steps in the fusion energy sciences program in both magnetic fusion energy (MFE) and inertial fusion energy (IFE). The resulting report describes the summer study and its outcomes:
The conclusions of this study were based on analysis led by over 60 conveners working with hundreds of members of the fusion energy sciences community extending over 8 months. This effort culminated in two weeks of intense discussion by over 250 U.S. and 30 foreign fusion physicists and engineers. The objectives of the Fusion Summer Study were three-fold: