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Of Interest

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Early September 2007 the offices of the ITER Organization are buzzing: New staff members of the first block of vacancies are moving in and taking up their new tasks in the ITER project, adding up to a total of 170 (status September 10, 2007). 140 more people will join within the next half year.

Also within the next few months we will see another big step in the history of ITER: the entry into force of the ITER Agreement. With China about to finalize its adoption of the Agreement and the other parties having concluded their ratification processes, we are now very close to ITER formally becoming a true international organization.

Besides these political and administrative aspects, an intensive technical effort is currently focused on the design of the ITER machine. Starting on the 17th of this month, we will organize extensive review meetings with experts from all seven ITER Members for one week at the Château to finalize the draft baseline design for ITER, which will then be presented to the ITER Council for approval in November. This will certainly mark the start of a new era of this project, where we can fully focus on construction.

On Thursday 30 August, the National People's Congress of China ratified the Agreement on the establishment of the ITER Organization, and the Agreement on the privileges and immunities of the ITER Organization. This is a first step to full ratification of the ITER Agreement by China, the final step being the signature of the Chinese President, which is expected shortly. The ratification took place as part of the seven-day, bimonthly meeting of the 170-member Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing.

The ITER Agreements were signed during a ceremony on 21 November last year in Paris, but before the ITER can be established formally as a true international organization, the ITER Agreement needs to be ratified, accepted or approved, in accordance with the procedures of each ITER Party. In the course of the year, the other six Parties have already concluded this process.

The ITER Agreement will enter into force 30 days after the reception by the IAEA - which is the repository of the ITER Agreement - of the official notification of the ratification from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At that time, ITER will officially become an international organization.

September 5 and 6 saw the 1st ITER Council Science and Technology Advisory Committee (IC-STAC) meeting at the Château in Cadarache. In the meeting that was chaired by Predhiman Kaw from India, the 40 representatives and experts from the IO and the seven ITER parties focused on the status and issues of the ongoing Design Review and its possible impacts on the mission´s triangular: schedule, cost and scope. Next week, September 17 until 21, the eight Design Review Working groups will once more convene in Cadarache to discuss the remaining open issues and to define the final proposal for the Baseline Design 2007 which will then be presented to the ITER Council for approval in November. Besides this most important issue, ITER Director General Kaname Ikeda updated the STAC participants on the progress of staff recruitment by the IO, and in establishing the Domestic Agencies and the forthcoming licensing milestones which include the submission of the so called Preliminary Safety Report by the end of this year and a public hearing mid 2008.

Fusion is the energy that powers the sun and the stars. And he has been closer to the centre of our solar system than any other fusion scientist, 300 kilometers to be precise: The Japanese Astronaut Mamoru Mohri.

Born in Yoichi, Hokkaido, Japan, Mamoru Mohri dreamed of becoming an astronaut ever since seeing Russian Yuri Gagarin setting off into space on 12 April 1961. Mohri was 13 then, and a big fan of the famous cartoon "Atomic Boy". At the age of 21 Mohri saw the first man walk on the moon and that was when he decided to become an astronaut, "to get closer to the sun".

But before he finally did so as a payload specialist in 1992 and again in 2000, logging more than 459 hours in space on board of the International Space Station (ISS), Mamoru Mohri studied the physics that actually powers the sun: nuclear fusion. He received his degree from Flinders University in South Australia, later he became an exchange scientist under the U.S./Japan Nuclear Fusion Collaboration Program.

After a tour around Tore Supra and the ITER site, Mamoru Mohri last week took the chance to address the members of the STAC meeting while they were having lunch at the Chateau. "It is astounding what humans can do when they work together," Mohri said. "I know that you will astound the world."

The Russian government last month adopted the main provisions of a draft strategy for developing a fusion power industry, including the construction of commercial fusion reactors by 2050. "If we fail to adopt this fusion research program now, we will soon lose the existing scientific potential and professional knowledge to implement the strategy," Akademician Yevgeny Velikhov was quoted by the Russian News Agency Novosti.

As Velikhov put it, the 2009-2015 program represents a first stage of a new fusion power strategy, including the modernization of technological potential that has been created during Soviet times, as well as training of scientific personnel. The cost is estimated at 30 billion roubles ($1.17 billion), but it could rise along with the implementation of specific projects, the scientist is quoted as saying.

The second stage of the proposed strategy (2016-2031) envisions the development and testing of materials to be used in future fusion power reactors. During the third stage, which will start after 2031, Russia hopes to design and start building commercial fusion power plants.

A new book, "Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy" by Jeffrey P. Freidberg from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has just been published by Cambridge University Press. It can be ordered online at their website. The book, which is based on a series of course notes from graduate courses in plasma physics and fusion energy at MIT, covers the potential role of fusion in future energy systems, fusion power production, design of a fusion reactor, and basic plasma physics. Exercises are included.

Secondly, there is the book "Fusion - The Energy of the Universe", written by Garry McCracken and Peter Stott, which has been translated into Korean and which is now available through Books Hill Publishing Co. The ISBN number of the translation is 9812598596. It will soon also be available at the ITER library.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has published an online and updated version of its World Survey of Activities in Controlled Fusion Research. It provides a comprehensive listing of fusion sites worldwide, including names, addresses, phone/fax, email and web URLs. It has an easy to use search engine.

Go to the IAEA database.

Un stylo rouge, un stylo bleu. These are the words little Johannes will always remember. Not only are they the first words he saw on his first day in school, written on the blackboard. They are also the first words he heard in a new language.

Johannes comes from Bavaria, Germany. He is one of the 30 or so primary class pupils that attend the new International School in Manosque which opened its doors last week. In total, about one hundred pupils age 3 to 18 will attend the newly opened nursery school, the primary and secondary classes or the nearby lycee. 31 teachers will teach them half time in French. Depending on their origin and mother tongue they can then choose from German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Chinese as their second language.

Besides Johannes, there are children with origins all over the world. There is Maureen from Villeneuve, France. Her mother is French and her father English. Then there is Camille who ´s mother is German, but who grew up in France. And there is six year old Nassim who is already a Cosmopolitan in its true meaning: Born in California, he grew up in France with one part of his family originating from Tunesia. Already capable of speaking three languages, Nassim is now heading for English and Chinese. His comment: "I will have to work hard!"

Anatoly Krasilnikov has been appointed head of the Russian DA. He was born in Novosibirsk, USSR, in 1958. He studied physics at the Moscow Physical Technical Institute from 1975 until 1981. At the same institute he received his PhD degree in plasma physics in 1994 and in 1999 he became Doctor of Science at the famous Kurchatov Institute. From 1981 until June this year Anatoly Krasilnikov worked as researcher, head of group, head of laboratory and as head department at the State Research Center of Russian Federation Troitsk Institute for Innovating and Fusion Research. During this time he participated in several plasma physics studies and diagnostic developments on the tokamaks TUMAN-3 (Ioffe Physical Technical Institute, USSR), T-13 (RRC Kurchatov Institute, USSR), T-11M (SRC TRINITI, Russia), TFTR (PPPL, USA), JT-60U (JAEA, Japan), JET (EU) and the stellarator LHD (NIFS, Japan). In 1986 until 2007 he was the responsible scientist for the development and the operation of the diagnostic complexes at T-14 and T-11M tokamaks in SRC TRINITI. This summer Anatoly Krasilnikov was nominated to lead the Russian ITER Domestic Agency which was established at the Kurchatov Institute in June this year.

After a 12 year period of construction, the Korean Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) is going to celebrate its completion this week. On September 14 the National Fusion Research Laboratory in Daejon, 160 kilometres south of Seoul, will unveil the world's newest experimental tokamak machine that will play a crucial role in the development of fusion power.

KSTAR is designed as a steady-state capable fusion device with a fully superconducting magnet system, including Toroidal Field (TF) coils, Central Solenoid (CS) coils, and Poloidal Field (PF) coils and long-pulse D-shape plasma characteristics. With this outline KSTAR will serve, besides following its own ambitious research program, as an ITER pilot plant, providing useful technical knowledge and data for the future operation of ITER.

KSTAR is expected to operate over 4 to 5 years with high power long-pulse operation. The testbed unit stands nine metres tall and measures nine metres in diameter. First plasma is expected in 2008.

From Sept 21 - October 1 the ITER project is on show at the Foire Internationale de Marseille, Palais des Congrès, Parc Chanot. On Wednesday, September 26, there will be a special ITER day with three presentations: At 10.45, ITER Director General Kaname Ikeda will introduce the project, its goal and scope, followed by Mission ITER at 14.30 explaining the road alterations that will be necessary for the transport of the various heavy machine parts. Then, at 15.30, Mission ITER will talk about the economical impact the project has on the PACA region. All lectures are given in the Salle Riou (Niveau 3).

On 14 August, a group of 130 scientists and engineers united in the Australian ITER Forum, launched a strategic plan for fusion science and engineering, which outlines the path towards an Australian involvement in ITER. The launch event was held in Parliament House in Canberra. The plan calls for an investment of 38 million Euro over 10 years.

Physicist Matthew Hole, chairman of the Australian ITER Forum, described ITER as the world's largest science project. The money would be spent on fellowships and travel for scientists working directly on the ITER project or on ITER-related science and would also fund Australian scientists to build a component for the reactor.

Read the full report here.