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From the Director: April 22, 2010—A Good Day for SLAC

(Photo - Persis Drell)
(Photo by Linda Cicero.)

On April 22, 2010, as was described in the announcement in SLAC Today, we sent X-rays to the far experimental hall for the first time. The final technical milestone of the Linac Coherent Light Source construction project was met. This is a big deal for the project and for the lab.

We knew that we would be trying for the milestone the week of April 19. The beam line was ready and as of the beginning of the week, the final Personnel Protection System work was being completed. At the 8 a.m. Main Control Center meeting on April 22, the planning for achieving the milestone was reviewed. PPS, which had been on the critical path, was ready, with all the protection systems for personnel and equipment completed and tested. Radiation physics, which would be surveying the new beam line, hutches and far hall areas that had never had beam before, to ensure that radiation shielding was adequate, was ready. All of the other systems required to get the Linac and LCLS running were tested and ready. It was clear we had a good chance to hit the milestone that day.

We also knew of another major milestone event the week of April 19. We knew that on Thursday, the Director of the Office Science Bill Brinkman would convene his advisory board, the ESAAB, to consider CD-0 for the expansion of the LCLS, LCLS II. A CD-0, or critical decision 0, is the first step in a project, where the Office of Science in the Department of Energy clears the way for scientific and technical teams to officially begin work on detailed plan and design. For us, this would be the first step toward a major upgrade of LCLS.

At the beginning of the week I joked with John Galayda about how spectacular it would be to get the CD-4 milestone signaling technical completion of LCLS and CD-0 for the upgrade on the same day, or within 24 hours of each other, or even just in the same week! It would just be unprecedented and would highlight how stunningly successful LCLS turn on and early commissioning has been.

Thursday at four minutes to 1 p.m., I had a call from John. "We got it." They had X-rays in the Far Experimental Hall. Wonderful! Spectacular! All of the technical milestones on a $420M project that we had been working on for most of the decade had been achieved. Fantastic! "Get off the phone and send an email to the DOE so they can know we have done it" was my response. (I hope I was more polite than that sounds!) Both John and I were very excited.

One hour later, at 2 p.m., I received several e-mails almost simultaneously. The ESAAB had concluded. Brinkman, had just signed approval of CD-0 for LCLS-II. Rumor has it that the Office of Science folks got the news of X-rays to the far hall as Dr. Brinkman was signing the CD-0! Wow!

We are just starting to do science with LCLS and there is lots of work yet to go to make LCLS-II a reality. But, I have to admit, that was a good day for the lab!

—Persis Drell
SLAC Today, April 30, 2010