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The Nation : ‘Star Wars’ Laser Test Rated a Success

A high-power chemical laser developed for the “Star Wars” program has been successfully tested for the first time in a vacuum chamber simulating the conditions of space, the Pentagon said. The test, described as “a major milestone” by the Defense Department, was conducted Friday at a special facility in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. While the so-called Alpha laser generated a laser beam for only one-fifth of a second, the initial “first light” test was sufficient to verify the theoretical calculations that were made in designing the device, said Neil Griff, the program manager for chemical lasers with the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization. Built by TRW of Redondo Beach, the Alpha is a hydrogen fluoride chemical laser that produces energy from chemical combustion. The device and program so far have cost about $200 million, officials said.


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