A high energy laser beam destroys a rocket from a distance of a little less than a mile.


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A high energy laser beam destroys a rocket from a distance of a little less than a mile.

Reagan was right: His proposed SDI laser-based defense system was a reasonable proposal, despite the ridicule of the leftwing elites in the 1980s. I have posted the video of this test below the fold.

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10 comments

  • Pzatchok

    I like the fact that it solid state and thus have no ammo or shot limit.

    Just a power source limit.

    Nothing close to the Chemical lasers power but them again this system is truck portable and far more practical for combat areas.

  • wodun

    Reagan was right but developing and implementing a space based system will take a long time, no matter how much money is thrown at it.

  • Now imagine a manned space station with huge solar arrays (and a nuclear backup), and giant ruby lasers (made with single crystals grown in zero-g) and you have a credible global nuclear war defense. The station would have a dozen Thor missiles and kinetic kill vehicles for self-defense.

    I think it was “Silver Tower” by Dale Brown, which described something similar.

  • I had thought the Outer Space Treaty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_Space_Treaty) forbade weapons in space, but it turns out that it only forbids ‘weapons of mass destruction’, so laser weapons may be allowable. Even so, a space station is an incredibly ‘soft’ target. An antagonist only has to fire one more projectile than the defensive weapon’s ammo supply, and it wouldn’t take much of a hit to render the station ineffective. I’d think this is why SDI envisioned a ‘constellation’ of relatively small satellites rather than one or several large installations.

  • D. K. Williams

    Sorry guys. I have to disagree on this one. The target was a relatively slow-moving rocket under clear skies. Space-based weapons might be effective against ICBM warheads IF you can get into position to attack them during the brief time they are out of the atmosphere. However, neither ground or space-based weapons of this type would be of much use against cruise missles.

  • Tom Billings

    D.K. wrote:

    “Space-based weapons might be effective against ICBM warheads IF you can get into position to attack them during the brief time they are out of the atmosphere.However, neither ground or space-based weapons of this type would be of much use against cruise missles.”

    Well space-based lasers would be used in constellations that would cover the whole planet with enough firepower to deal with the missile arsenal they are targeted against, without much maneuver, beyond dodging to avoid KE countermeasures themselves. The US Navy is specifically looking to lasers for its cruise missile defense aboard ships. That awaits sufficient power sources to keep their Megawatt+ lasers active, without slowing the ship. Their lasers, meanwhile, are being developed through the 100 kilowatt level, for targets like drones and fast boats. They will probably use Phase conjugation to bring together 10 or more smaller lasers to break into the Megawatt power range, when they get the power available.

  • Perhaps a return to nuclear powered surface ships?

  • Pzatchok

    Actually it would be closer to the target if the laser source was on the ground.

    Placing satellites into orbit would require them to be geosynchronous and that would require them to be quite a bit higher than the targets moving across the backdrop of the Earth.

    New technology developed for ground based telescopes would remove any atmospheric problems. And ground based radar would be able to guide it far better.

    Plus you really want to strike down ICBM’s before they reach space and separate their warheads.
    Because even if you shoot down the warhead you now have a chance of a live nuke falling onto the planet someplace no one wanted it to. Or you could set it off in space.
    If you can get to it on its way up you can shoot it down long before it arms. And hopefully it will still be inside the launching nations boarders for them to worry about.

    There are a limited number of places this would be effective. And North America is not one of them. Unless its inside the arctic circle to stop Russia or China from launching a polar rout ICBM.
    The more logical places would be close to rogue nations with launch capabilities.

    Other nations are in a far more dangerous position than the US.

  • D. K. Williams

    Yes, it would be best to hit an ICBM during the boost phase, however, this involves a whole host of factors including, how do you know it isn’t a weather satellite? My comment regarding cruise missles was not specific enough. I was thinking about defending land targets such as the continental US. I suppose we could station hundreds of defensive weapons along our coasts, but such static defenses could be defeated in several ways, the simplest being to overload a few points with a volley of dozens of them.

  • Pzatchok

    I don’t think its likely that a any nation crazy enough to attack the US has the resources and weapons to make such an overwhelming attack.

    Maybe a single salvo into a limited area but even then it wouldn’t be that damaging to the nation as a whole and will in the end just give us a real reason to cause them a whole lot more grief than they ever imagined.

    The US has not gone into a war with the express purpose of removing a generation or two of the enemies people.
    We have recently gone into combat with the idea of taking a huge amount of area with fast movement and tactics. This tends to limit the amount of casualties on both sides. and with good will and a little propaganda tends to keep the growth of insurrectionists, partisans or terrorists to a minimum.

    If we went into combat with the idea of forcing them to fight and thus forcing them to put every single fighting age person on the front line we could remove a whole generation of a nation in short order.
    Move slow, make weak attacks, strong defenses, giving the enemy the time to recruit, arm and train their solders. That gives them a false sense of power and security. Thus it keeps recruits coming in.
    Basically you just build a grinding machine to eat up the enemy solders over a long period of time.
    You leave the enemies command structure intact to keep training and arming the enemy, which is the reverse of what we are doing now.

    Yes we will lose more people pf our own but we will eat theirs up at a rate exceeding 15 to one. Possibly 20 to one or better. And if we took to WWII carpet bombing tactics it would clime WAY higher.

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