Wednesday, July 04, 2007

9/11 and Star Wars technology

Another area of research was into directed energy weapons, including a nuclear-explosion powered X-ray laser proposal developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in 1968.

Star Wars Directed-Energy Weapons (DEW)
(brought to you by the Star Wars Program)

Other research was based on more conventional lasers or masers and developed to include the idea of a satellite with a fixed laser and a deployable mirror for targeting. LLNL continued to consider more edgy technology but their X-ray laser system development was cancelled in 1977 (although research into X-ray lasers was resurrected during the 1980's as part of the SDI). The USSR had also researched directed energy weapons, under the Fon project from 1976, but the technical requirements needed of the high-powered gas dynamic lasers and neutral or charged particle beam systems seemed to be beyond reach. In the early 80's, the Soviet Union also started developing a counterpart to the US air-launched ASAT system, using modified MiG-31 'Foxhounds' (at least one of which was completed) as the launch platform. In 1985, the United States successfully destroyed one of its own satellites using a missile. [4]

In 1982, the United States tested its own anti-satellite systems called the Air Launched Miniature Vehicle (ALMV). The system consisted of a modified F-15 that carried the anti-satellite missile (ASM) directly under the central line of the plane. The F-15 was modified for this specific purpose and it provided the missile with a backup battery, its own microprocessor and a data link for midcourse guidance systems. The first launch of the anti-satellite missile took place in January 1984. The missile was aimed at a point in space. Three anti-satellite missiles were launched against celestial infrared sources.

On September 13, 1985, the first anti-satellite missile targeting a real satellite was launched. The modified F-15 took off from Edwards Air Force Base, climbed to 80,000 feet and vertically launched the anti-satellite missile. The target was the Solwind P78-1, a gamma ray spectroscopy satellite orbiting at 555km, which was launched in 1979.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, there were proposals to use this aircraft as a launch platform for lofting commercial and science packages into orbit. Recent political developments (see below) may have seen the reactivation of the Russian Air-Launched ASAT program, although there is no confirmation of this as yet.

The Strategic Defense Initiative gave the US and Russian ASAT programs a major boost; ASAT projects were adapted for ABM use and the reverse was also true. The initial US plan was to use the already developed MHV as the basis for a space based constellation of about 40 platforms deploying up to 1,500 kinetic interceptors. By 1988 the US project had evolved into an extended four stage development. The initial stage would consist of the Brilliant Pebbles defense system, a satellite constellation of 4,600 kinetic interceptors (KE ASAT), of 45 kg each, in Low Earth orbit, and their associated tracking system. The next stage would deploy the larger platforms and the following phases would include the laser and charged particle beam weapons that would be developed by that time from existing projects such as MIRACL. The first stage was intended to be completed by 2000 at a cost of around $125 billion.

Research in the US and Russia was proving that the requirements, at least for orbital based energy weapon systems, were, with available technology, close to impossible. Nonetheless, the strategic implications of a possible unforeseen breakthrough in technology forced the USSR to initiate massive spending on research in the 12th Five Year Plan, drawing all the various parts of the project together under the control of GUKOS and matching the US proposed deployment date of 2000.

Both countries began to reduce expenditure from 1989 and the Russian Federation unilaterally discontinued all SDI research in 1992. Research and Development (both of ASAT systems and other space based/deployed weapons) has, however reported to have be been resumed under the Vladimir Putin government as a counter to renewed US Strategic Defense efforts post Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. However the status of these efforts, or indeed how they are being funded through National Reconnaissance Office projects of record, remains unclear. The U.S. has begun working on a number of programs which could be foundational for a space-based ASAT. These programs include the Experimental Spacecraft System (XSS 11), the Near-Field Infrared Experiment (NFIRE), and the space-based interceptor (SBI).


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posted by u2r2h at 5:42 PM


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