17 Jun 2002
The US Congress's General Accounting Office (GAO) will report that the total cost of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) project could exceed USD 2.8 billion, according to the Associated Press (AP).
That price tag would be almost three times the original budget, and completion of the project is now put at 2008 - six years behind schedule. In January this year, the cost was estimated at just USD 1.5 billion.
According to the AP, the GAO report blames an unrealistic original budget, poor management at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (www.llnl.gov), where the NIF is based, and "an absence of effective independent reviews" for the soaring costs.
When eventually completed, the NIF will consist of 192 amplified fibre-laser beams aimed at a single target, simulating the thermonuclear conditions created by a nuclear explosion.
The project is part of the US government's plan to test nuclear weapons without actual nuclear detonations of warheads.