Editor’s note: In late October the congressional Office of Technology Assessment issued a report, Starpower The U.S. and the International Quest for Fusion Energy (for a related story, seep. 8). The report, excerpted here, outlines four funding approaches for fusion research over the next few years.

The Department of Energy (DOE) manages the U.S. fusion program, and its goal is to evaluate fusion’s technological feasibility— to determine whether or not a fusion reactor can be designed and built—early in the 21st century. A positive evaluation would enable a decision to be made at that time to construct a prototype commercial reactor. However, this schedule cannot be met under existing U.S. fusion budgets. The DOE plan requires either that U.S. budget be increased substantially or that the world fusion programs collaborate much more closely on fusion research.

Research aimed at developing fusion as an energy source has been vigorously pursued since...

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