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America's 60-year effort to build a deadly laser has been crippled by farcical blunders and technical problems, a new book reveals.
The military has spent hundreds of billions trying to build a Star Wars style 'Death Ray' but the plans have barely made it off the drawing board.
Researchers - Projects - Security - Clearance - Bathrooms
Lead researchers on early projects were not given security clearance and were nearly banned from using their own bathrooms out of fears they were working for the Communists.
Lasers in planes were so heavy that rocket boosters to fly them did not even exist - and those which got airborne were beset by vibration problems.
Project - Aircraft - Flight - Battle - Fighter
One $4.3 billion project led to an aircraft that had to return to base after every flight and needed to be escorted to battle by fighter jets because it could not defend itself.
The most famous attempt to build space lasers was Ronald Reagan's 'Star Wars' program in 1983 but after burning through more than $200 billion it was canceled.
Thing - Names - Program - Brilliant - Pebbles
The main thing it left behind was daft names like a program called Brilliant Pebbles and a planned space-based gun known as CHECMATE, a pun on 'Checkmate' in chess.
For all the talk of futuristic particle beams from science fiction films, the reality is that we are only now beginning to make real progress argues 'Lasers, Death Rays and the Long, Strange Quest for the Ultimate Weapon' by Jeff Hecht, out now on Prometheus Books.
Book - Doubt - President - Donald - Trump
The book casts doubt on President Donald Trump's plan to create a new Space Force by 2020 and his proposal, unveiled earlier this month, to reinvent America's missile defenses.
Trump said he wanted to 'detect and destroy every type of missile attack against any American target, whether before or after launch.'
Array - Sensors - Interceptors - Projectiles - States
The new array of sensors and interceptors will shoot down incoming projectiles from 'rogue states' like North Korea, the president said.
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