Key Component of Star Wars Program Tested

Associated Press

A little rocket-powered device designed to destroy nuclear missiles in space shot 13 feet into the air and flew for 17 seconds during a Star Wars program test, officials said Thursday.

The 23.8-pound, computerized projectile also locked in on a simulated missile plume 100 yards away, performed two lateral movements covering 20 feet and hovered before dropping into a safety net, officials said.

The device, known as LEAP, for Lightweight Exo-Atmospheric Projectile, is considered a key component of the Pentagon’s Star Wars program, officially known as the Strategic Defense Initiative.


It was tested Aug. 22 at the Phillips Laboratory east of the base’s flight test center, but the results were not announced until Thursday.

SDI officials said a device like the LEAP would be launched aboard an Aires or similar rocket and ejected 60 miles to 180 miles above the Earth. The device would track incoming missiles and slam into them, destroying the weapons.