JET’s first plasma

picture of activity in assembly hall

Activity in the Assembly Hall, prior to the first pulse

“JET came to life with the first plasma on June 25th 1983 after five years of frantic construction. It was a great day even if a plasma of only a few kA was achieved. At this time all the elements of the machine were not yet tested including the plasma positioning which was not active; nevertheless JET was in operation.

The decision to finance and construct JET was taken on the first of June 1978 after three years of conception and detailed design and two years of pain and despair, hoping for the project to be approved. At the time of the site decision the team was reduced to 35 but JET had already inspired the modification of DIII into DIIID at San Diego.

picture of the very first shot

The very first shot

During the construction, maintaining the planning and the cost was a struggle: we had said in 1975 that the construction would require five years: the 25th of June we got the first plasma in line with the planning and the cost foreseen.

A few months later we achieved a one MA plasma for more than 2 seconds and won our bet with TFTR. Later on, in 1984, the solemn JET inauguration by the Queen and the President F. Mitterand had taken place.

This first plasma opened the way to a long story of successes and performances. I would like only to mention here the first experiment with tritium where 2 MW of fusion power were produced to be increased later on to 16 MW. I still think that JET could double its fusion power but this is the responsibility of the present team.

JET is the physics model for ITER and, without the results achieved, ITER would not have been possible. I want to praise the European team who constructed the project, a team who was so dedicated and who felt so strongly that this project belonged to them. This team was composed of physicists and personnel coming mainly from the European fusion laboratories.

All of us owe a great thanks to those who fought and allowed JET construction to be decided in 1978. I would like also to remember Hans-Otto Wüster, the first JET Director.

The decision was only possible thanks to the confidence and the will of Donato Palumbo, the fusion Director at the European commission who supported the Joint European Torus.”

by Paul-Henri Rebut, director of JET (1985-1992)