Despite the tight schedule, both Haange and Apollonatos say that they will not ask for more time at next month's ITER council meeting in Cadarache, France. "We remain committed to delivering on all fronts and in line with the ITER schedule," Apollonatos says. Haange says that Osamu Motojima, director-general of the ITER Organization, is already looking at "simplified assembly", a further stripping-down of the already bare-bones first version of the machine, to keep the project on track. "We will ask for more time only if it is absolutely necessary," Haange says.
But holding onto the date for start-up may delay the first power-producing experiments, now scheduled for late 2027 or early 2028. Those experiments require a radioactive isotope of hydrogen called tritium to be produced on site. The necessary tritium plant may have to be delayed to keep to the current budget and schedule, Haange says. That delay may be politically unacceptable, he says. "We will have to find ways of recovering potential time delays."