The road ahead
The ITER Research Plan (IRP) is one of the major ITER baseline documents—it is intended to define the research activities of the project and it complements the ITER Project Schedule (IPS). The first version of the IRP was drafted during the ITER Design Review in 2007 and developed an overview of the principal physics research activities to be carried out during ITER construction together with an initial definition of the experimental program planned for the first 10 years of ITER operation.
The next phase of development of the IRP has been underway for several months with the aim of developing an updated and extended version which will be discussed with the ITER Science and Technology Committee (STAC) in late May. Major developments include the incorporation of the test blanket module (TBM) program, the first technology element to be included in the IRP, a more extensive definition of the physics research activities accompanying construction, a more explicit definition of the ITER plasma scenarios, and a deeper analysis of the possible upgrades which will be added to the ITER facility over the next 20 years or so. A significant aspect is the revision of the ITER experimental schedule to make the transition to full deuterium-tritium (D-T) operation as early as possible while maintaining consistency with the most recent developments in the ITER construction schedule.
The IRP has been, since its initial drafting, a collaborative activity of ITER Organization staff and fusion experts from the Members' communities. During the ITER Research Plan Workshop, held at the ITER site from 15-17 April, about 20 experts from the ITER Organization and several of the ITER Members reviewed all aspects of the document drafting, discussed many technical and scientific issues, and agreed to plans for the assembly of the revised IRP in time for the forthcoming STAC-6 meeting. The contributions to the IRP development made by the fusion community experts are of particular value, since they not only help to maintain close contacts between the ongoing R&D activities in the fusion program and the ITER research planning, but also ensure that the interests and concerns of the fusion community in the formulation of the future ITER scientific and experimental program are reflected in the IRP.
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