Accessibility links

Breaking News

NATO: Ground-Based Laser To Fire At Aging Satellite

Maastricht, Netherlands; 2 October 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The United States announced today that an aging U.S. Air Force satellite will be used as a target in a test of a ground-based laser system.

The announcement was made following a meeting of Nato defense ministers in the Dutch town of Maastricht. Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen approved the experiment in an effort to reduce the vulnerability of U.S. satellite systems.

Bacon said the test would illuminate the satellite twice and would not destroy the satellite or create any orbital debris. He said it also would not pose any risk to other satellites.

Critics say the test could push the United States further toward the development of space warfare technology. Pentagon officials previously said that a goal of the test is to see what it might take to render an enemy satellite inoperative without endangering U.S. satellites.