Thank you Dr. Prabhakar for joining NNSA to celebrate our incredible achievement, and thank you, Secretary Granholm, for kicking us off and being such a tremendous supporter of science. This success would not be possible without the strong support for foundational research by the US government and by the sustained investment in our national laboratories.
Monday, December 5th, 2022, was an important day in science. Reaching ignition in a controlled fusion experiment is an achievement that has come after more than 60 years of global research, development, engineering, and experimentation. The people at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility reached this ignition milestone because of the work others did before them, their analysis of data and models, their continued pursuit to have the best possible facility, and their sheer excellence and grit.
I would like to thank the members of Congress, thank you so much for being here today, who have supported the National Ignition Facility because your belief in the promise of visionary science has been critical for our mission. I would also like to thank our international partners that worked with us on this, because their collaboration demonstrate the power and possibility of advancing scientific pursuits. And finally, a giant thank you to the talented federal Defense Programs and National Security Enterprise teams that supported this work at Lawrence Livermore. We are so proud of the accomplishments of our Livermore National Ignition Facility team.
The National Ignition Facility is the world's largest and most energetic laser system. During experiments, 192 high-energy lasers converge on a target about the size of a peppercorn, heating a capsule of deuterium and tritium to over 3 million degrees Celsius and, briefly, simulating the conditions inside a star.
In achieving ignition, the researchers at Lawrence Livermore have opened a new chapter in NNSA’s Stockpile Stewardship Program enabling us to study new regimes. Along with this, we have taken the first tentative steps towards a clean energy source that could revolutionize the world.
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to remember the 30th anniversary of Divider, the last explosive nuclear weapons test conducted by the United States. In reflecting, I spoke of how far our science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program had come and how in many ways we now understood our nuclear weapons better than when we were testing. Unlocking ignition at NIF will allow us to probe the extreme conditions found at the center of nuclear explosions and address significant long-standing stewardship questions.
The unprecedented nature of reaching ignition also confirms what I and previous administrators have been saying for decades, there is no more dedicated or more talented group of scientists in the world, as it should be. The tireless efforts of the thousands of people from around the Nuclear Security Enterprise and their predecessors are responsible for this breakthrough. We honor their intelligence, their commitment, and their determination.
Going forward, we know we will make further breakthroughs and we’ll have further setbacks; but all of this is in the interest of promoting our national security, pushing us towards a clean energy future, and redefining the boundary of what is possible.
Now, I would like to welcome Dr. Marv Adams, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, to speak on this critical achievement in inertial confinement fusion within his program. Thank you.