National Ignition Facility installsits 1,000th optical element unit

Oct. 7, 2005

The National Ignition Facility’s 1,000th line-replacable optical unit is maneuvered into position. to download a high-resolution image.) (Download Image)

National Ignition Facility installsits 1,000th optical element unit

LIVERMORE, Calif. -- At an all-hands meeting on October 23 of last year, the National Ignition Facility's Ed Moses set an ambitious goal for his workers.

In one year's time, he wanted them to install 1,000 line replaceable units (LRU), the complex modules containing optics and instrumentation, through which NIF's 192 laser beams must pass as they make their way through the enclosed beamline to a tiny gas-filled pellet in the target chamber.

It didn't take a full year.

On October 5, 2005, Moses, now the Lab's Associate Director for NIF Programs, called his staff together to congratulate them on achieving their goal 18 days ahead of schedule.

When assembled, NIF LRUs are precision electro-optical/mechanical structures weighing between 500 and 1,000 kilograms. The completed facility will have about 5,760 LRUs.

LRU components are assembled and tested in a cleanroom environment to validate the cleanliness, alignment, and operation of these complex assemblies, before large robotic forklifts gently insert the LRUs into the beamlines from below.

NIF Project Manager Ralph Patterson said, "This is a tremendous achievement by our talented and dedicated project team. This milestone represents the work of all of us; NIF infrastructure, design, planning, procurement, inspection, warehousing, cleaning, kitting, assembly, testing, transport, installation and controls."

Eight of NIF's 192 beams have now been commissioned and placed into service. They have already achieved an energy output of 153 kilojoules, well above the milestone requirement of 125 kj.

The entire NIF project is expected to be completed in mid-2009, with ignition experiments beginning a year later.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.