The Soviet tokamak T-15 was a promising machine. Built at about the same time (1983-1988) as Tore Supra in Cadarache, it was the first installation to use superconducting niobium-tin conductors. Fifteen years after "economic difficulties" stopped the project's experiments, the machine's 24 Nb3Sn toroidal field coils are still the largest in the world.
''Fusion can help fission,'' say both Englen Azizov and Oleg Filatov. While fullfilling its mission as an ''ITER-complementary machine,'' T-15 MD will explore ''hybrid concepts'' in which the fusion neutrons are used to induce fission reactions in a fertile blanket of natural uranium or thorium.
"We do not want to repeat what has already been done in other machines," explain Azizov and Filatov, "we want to explore."
T-15, here featured on a 5 kopek stamp in 1987, demonstrated the steady-state regime of its magnetic system operation, carried out about a hundred shots but never operated at full capacity.