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Burning Plasma: Bringing a Star to Earth
Adequate fueling, heating, and current drive techniques have been developed to control and evaluate burning plasmas.
The committee finds that the six technical criteria discussed above have now been satisfied, except for a few remaining areas (described in Chapter 4—see the subsection entitled “Directly Support the Burning Plasma Program on ITER”), in which ongoing research is expected to adequately address these outstanding issues.
Significant progress has been made in the development of the technology needed to implement a fusion machine of the scale and nature of ITER. It is clear that ongoing research can be expected to adequately address technical issues requiring continued attention, but no issues remain that would undermine the fusion community’s assertion that it is technically ready to undertake a burning plasma experiment. It is worth noting that many of the confidence-building steps mentioned here were accomplished by researchers outside the United States at fusion research facilities in Europe, Japan, and the Russian Federation, with U.S. participation during the ITER Engineering Design Activity and prototype testing prior to U.S. withdrawal from the ITER program in 1998.