Skip to Main Content
The National Compact Stellarator Experiment (NCSX) was designed to test physics principles of an innovative stellarator design developed by Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Construction of some of the major components and subassemblies was completed, but the estimated cost and schedule for completing the project grew as the technical requirements and risks became better understood, leading to its cancellation in 2008. The project's risks stemmed from its technical challenges, primarily the complex component geometries and tight tolerances that were required. The initial baseline, which was established in 2004, was supported by a risk management plan and risk-based contingencies, both of which proved to be inadequate. Technical successes were achieved in the construction of challenging components and subassemblies, but cost and schedule growth was experienced. As part of an effort to improve project performance, a new risk management program was devised and implemented in 2007-2008. It led to a better understanding of project risks, a sounder basis for contingency estimates, and improved management tools. Although the risks were ultimately unacceptable to the sponsor, valuable lessons in risk management were learned through the experiences with the NCSX project.