CERN’s pioneering AWAKE facility, which aims to drastically reduce the scale of particle accelerators, received its first beam on 16 June. The milestone signals the next stage of commissioning for the novel experiment, which aims to use plasma wakefields driven by a proton beam to accelerate charged particles to high energies over very short distances. The proton beam had to travel around 800 m before entering a 10 m-long plasma cell, which is empty during the current commissioning phase, and then carry on downstream to several detectors. The test was a success, with protons striking the detector straight away, and the team now plans to finalize installation of the experiment, the laser and the full plasma cell. AWAKE hopes to start collecting physics data by the end of the year.