Announced by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, the SDI program called for the development of ground and space-based systems to protect the U.S. against missile attack. The program officially began operations in 1984 under the auspices of the the United States Department of Defense. By the early 1990s, however, the bulk of U.S. research efforts were directed towards the development of ground-based interceptor missiles and theater scale systems.
President Reagan Addresses the Nation March 23, 1983
President Reagan addresses the nation from the While House on national security, introducing the concept that would become popularly referred to as "Star Wars."
Extended Range Interceptor (ERINT) Launch
The Extended Range Interceptor launches from White Sands Missile Range. The Interceptor was part of a wider program designed to test the viability of using small, radar-homing vehicles to hit incoming missiles.
Homing Overlay Experiment
The Homing Overlay Experiment marked the first time that anyone had successfully tested a hit-to-kill intercept of a mock ballistic missile warhead beyond the Earth's atmosphere.
Artist Conception of Space Laser Defense System
An artist's concept of a space laser satellite defense system from 1984.
Credit: U.S. Air Force/Wikimedia
Deuterium Fluoride Laser
The Mid-Infrared Advanced Chemical Laser (MIRACL)was a deuterium fluoride laser that successfully downed a Titan missile booster in a simulation.
Space-Based Relay Mirrors
Technicians at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), work on the Low-powered Atmosphere Compensation Experiment satellite. In 1990,
researchers were able to demonstrate how technologies for space-based relay mirrors would be used with a directed-energy weapon system.
Credit: Michael Savell/Wikimedia
Artistic Conception of "Brilliant Pebbles"
The concept behind "Brilliant Pebbles" was to send up a fleet of small satellite-based missiles which would use high-velocity kinetic warheads against attacking missiles. The project was canceled in 1994.
Delta 183 Launch Vehicle Lifts Off
Delta 183 launch vehicle carries the SDI sensor experiment "Delta Star", on March 24, 1989. On board were a variety of infrared imagers and photometers in addition to a laser detector and ranging device.
Artist's Concept: Ground/Space-Based Laser Weapon
Several ideas were considered in developing a ground/space-based laser weapon which could take counter-measures against different kinds of enemy attacks.
Kinetic Energy Weapons Test
A seven gram Lexan projectile was fired from a light gas gun at 23,000 feet per second into a cast aluminum block. The idea was to test the effects of Kinetic Energy Weapons featured
Credit: R.D. WARD/Wikimedia
Patriot Missile Interceptor
The Patriot Missile interceptor is designed to stop incoming ballistic missiles by exploding in the vicinity of the target, destroying it with shrapnel.
After climbing to 80,000 feet, an F-15 fired a missile at satellite orbiting the earth at 345 miles. The program was canceled in 1988.
The interceptor is supposed to knock out incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles before they can enter U.S. airspace.
Test of the Peacekeeper Missile
Peacekeeper missile system tested at the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Each Peacekeeper can hold up to 10 independently targeted nuclear warheads.
Raytheon Scores a Bullseye
Raytheon and the U.S. Navy announce the successful deployment of a high-power, solid-state laser, together with a Phalanx Close-in Weapon System, to down four drone aircraft off the coast of California
Image of the UAV Explosion
In an image grabbed from a video of the encounter, the laser weapon hits a UAV in flight.