Star man becomes star maker at official opening of MAST upgrade

British astronaut, and former International Space Station crew member, Tim Peake, visited Culham in Science Vale on Wednesday 26 May to officially open the MAST Upgrade fusion experiment.

In the last six months since beginning operations, MAST Upgrade has already produced some very impressive results, especially demonstrating reduced heat from the new Super-X divertor exhaust system.

Tim met senior members of UKAEA, MAST Upgrade and key partner organisations. He also spoke to the shift team on the day – even running a plasma test, creating a miniature ‘star’ in the machine. A star man indeed becoming a star maker for the day.

He gave a short speech in the MAST Upgrade control room – but also via Zoom to the wider MAST Upgrade team at home, before having a full tour of the machine and then the wider fusion facilities on site.

Tim was impressed with what he saw during his visit:

Creating a star here in Oxfordshire was an unbelievable experience. The fact we can actually do this now, and use this technology to develop it to what can potentially be a power plant is fantastic.

I think fusion is going to be incredibly important to helping resolve the planet’s climate emergency. It’s essential for the future because it provides a clean, abundant and safe way to generate power.

UKAEA CEO Ian Chapman was delighted to welcome Tim to see MAST Upgrade:

Tim was fascinated by what we are achieving with MAST Upgrade, and it was a pleasure to showcase the amazing work that the team have undertaken to get to this point. Due to COVID, it was a real shame that the whole MAST Upgrade team could not be here in person – but all involved with the project should be very proud of what they have achieved.”