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COMPASS restarts in Prague

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The control room of COMPASS opened its doors to the media on 19 February to record the first shots of plasma operations, less than two years after its move from the UK to the Czech Republic capital.

COMPASS, mothballed after its career as one of the key fusion experiments in the UK in the 1990s, was "sold" to the Institute of Plasma Physics for a token sum of £1 to start a second life as a focus for the expanding Czech fusion program. It will be the smallest tokamak with a clear H-mode and ITER-relevant geometry.

The Czechs' amazing achievement in starting operations in this very short time, already achieving shots of 100 kA for 30 milliseconds, was acknowledged by Yvan Capouet, Head of the European Commission's Research Unit J4 Fusion Agreements, who spoke at a short ceremony. He said that the IPP's previous experience with the CASTOR experiment and international teams were driving factors for success. Congratulating the team, he invited them to go to work, as there was much work to be done to prepare for ITER and the future of fusion energy. The current President of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic echoed his words, wishing good luck to his young colleagues, including participants coming from abroad.

Speaking by video link from the previous home of COMPASS, William Morris, Head of the Experiments Department at UKAEA Culham, congratulated the team on the speed and efficiency with which the machine had been moved and re-commissioned. It had been an astonishing feat that was an example to the whole fusion community.

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