The Nova laser fusion research facility, currently under construction at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), will provide researchers with powerful new tools for the study of nuclear weapons physics and inertial confinement fusion (ICF). The Nova laser system consists of ten large (74-cm-diam) beams, focused and aligned precisely so that their combined energy is brought to bear for a small fraction of a second on a tiny target containing thermonuclear fuel (deuterium and tritium). The ultimate goal of the LLNL ICF program is to produce fusion microexplosions that release several hundred times the energy that the laser delivers to the target. Such an achievement would make ICF attractive for military and civilian applications. The U.S. Department of Energy has approved construction of ten Nova laser beams, harmonic-conversion crystal arrays, and the associated laboratory buildings. By the mid 1980s, Nova will produce the extremes of heat and pressure required to explore the physical region of ignition of the thermonuclear fuel Additional developments in the area of high-efficiency drivers and reactor systems may make ICF attractive for commercial power production.