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The 10 kJ Shiva laser irradiation facility is a major laser experimental facility devoted to inertial confinement fusion (ICF) research. It consists of: 1) a 20-beam Nd:glass laser amplifier system in which each beam has a final clear aperture of 20 cm diameter, 2) optical and alignment systems to focus the 20 beams simultaneously onto microscopic fusion targets, and 3) target diagnostics systems to measure the response of the targets to the irradiating beams. Since its activation in early 1978, Shiva has operated continuously, providing up to 28 terawatts (TW) of 1.064 μm optical power to targets. The evolution of Shiva into a reliable experimental facility required the development of engineering technology based on solid-state laser concepts first introduced in the 1960's and early 1970's.