The National Ignition Facility (NIF) is a MJ-class
glass laser-based facility funded by the Department of
Energy which has achieved thermonuclear ignition and moderate
gain as one of its main objectives. In the summer of 1998,
the project was about 40% complete, and design and construction
was on schedule and on cost. The NIF will start firing
onto targets in 2001, and will achieve full energy in 2004.
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) together
with the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have the
main responsibility for achieving X-ray driven ignition
on the NIF. In the 1990s, a comprehensive series of experiments
on Nova at LLNL, followed by recent experiments on the
Omega laser at the University of Rochester, demonstrated
confidence in understanding the physics of X-ray drive
implosions. The same physics at equivalent scales is used
in calculations to predict target performance on the NIF,
giving credence to calculations of ignition on the NIF.
An integrated program of work in preparing the NIF for
X-ray driven ignition in about 2007, and the key issues
being addressed on the current Inertial Confinement Fusion
(ICF) facilities [(Nova, Omega, Z at Sandia National
Laboratory (SNL) and NIKE at the Naval Research Laboratory
(NRL)], are described.