October 1996

Root Page of Article: Coming Out of the Closedt World, by John Horberg

Star Wars

Although the different versions of Reagan's SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) varied, Edwards' description of the basic system seems sufficient to show anyone that the system could not possibly work as envisioned:
Military satellites would instantaneously detect and track Soviet missile launches by their very bright heat trails. Computers would integrate this information and coordinate a comprehensive attack on the incoming weapons. First they would aim directed-energy beam weapons at the rocket boosters of each ICBM, destroying most of them before they could release their MIRVs. Any warheads that escaped the initial counterattack would be picked off either by space-based weapons as they left the atmosphere or by ground- based weapons as they reentered it. Many new types of weapons -- including particle beams, electromagnetic rail guns, ground-based lasers bounced off orbiting "smart mirrors," space-based lasers created by channeling x-ray pulses from thermonuclear explosions, and kinetic-energy interceptors -- were suggested and research begun.
Edwards notes that the SDI system would need to be ^fully automated, taking people completely out of the loop. He describes, however, the impossibility of creating completely error-free software for the system, especially noting that the software was estimated to require between 10 and 100 million lines of code, "one or two orders of magnitude larger than the largest existing programs." ^

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