Lasers and Missile Defense: New Concepts for Space-Based and Ground Based Laser Weapons [open pdf - 526KB]
Recent advances in lasers, optics, and spacecraft technologies may bring high-energy laser weapons to a sufficient level of maturity for serious consideration as space weapons against the theater ballistic missile threat. However, these technological advances also make other architectures possible, such as the use of terrestrial laser sources with space-based relay mirrors or a mixed force of space-based lasers with orbiting relay mirrors. An important question is how these dramatic technology improvements have affected the strategic employment concepts for high-energy laser weapons. Three space-based architectures are evaluated against the potential ballistic missile threat: space-based lasers, ground-based lasers in conjunction with orbiting mirrors, and a combined approach using space-based lasers with orbiting mirrors.
Occasional Paper No. 5