What nobody knew…

Professional space analyst, and space defence and intelligence guru, Dwayne Day reports on a little known aspect of the US Defense Department’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in the January issue of Spaceflight magazine, as shown below in this introductory extract from that issue.

Star Wars, LOSAT-X and QuickStar

By Dwayne A. Day

In 1983 Ronald Reagan announced the creation of the Strategic Defense Initiative, or SDI, quickly labeled the Star Wars programme by a critic. SDI was intended to develop defences against Soviet ICBMs. It was not inherently a space-based programme, but planners expected satellites to play a major role, not only detecting missile launches, but shooting ICBMs and their warheads out of the sky.

Initially, many SDI concepts were for large spacecraft equipped with lasers and particle beam weapons capable of destroying many Soviet ICBM’s at a time. But by the latter 1980s, SDI planning had evolved in favor of a concept known as Brilliant Pebbles, which would involve orbiting many thousands of small satellites that could then individually intercept warheads as they sailed through space. The satellites would have to do their own final tracking and interception, slamming into the warheads at speeds of many kilometers per second.

LOSAT-X, for ‘LOw altitude SATellite eXperimental’, which was launched into orbit in July 1991 as a secondary payload aboard a Delta II rocket carrying the GPS-2A 2 satellite, was a test for Brilliant Pebbles. LOSAT-X’s mission was to observe rocket burns using some small prototype sensors. Recently, a former lead engineer for LOSAT-X reminisced about the mission on the condition that his name not be used because he did not have official permission from his company to speak about it.

FOR THE REST OF THIS EXCITING STORY SEE THE JANUARY 2015 ISSUE OF SPACEFLGHT

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