In this first shot, researchers trained all of NIF’s 192 beams onto the target depositing a total of 1 million joules of heat—just over half of NIF’s maximum energy. To produce power, the target capsule would normally contain a mixture of cryogenically frozen deuterium and tritium—two isotopes of hydrogen. But in this first shot the capsule also contained some normal hydrogen to dampen down any fusion reaction. This is so researchers can learn more about the physics of the capsule compression before making a full shot at ignition.
LLNL has funding for several years to work on ignition. Although this first shot is a milestone, NIF’s proponents say that it may take a year or more before a successful ignition shot is achieved.