Strategic Defense Initiative Program:

Zenith Star Space-Based Chemical Laser Experiment

NSIAD-89-118: Published: Apr 14, 1989. Publicly Released: May 15, 1989.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed selected aspects of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization's (SDIO) Space-Based Chemical Laser (SBCL) Research Program, specifically: (1) SDIO progress and changes in SBCL research; (2) whether changes in SBCL research priorities were detrimental to other laser research; and (3) Department of Defense (DOD) and SDIO actions to determine SBCL compliance with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

GAO found that: (1) the original SDIO laser research schedule has slipped up to 2 years, with some work eliminated or significantly reduced; (2) although SDIO has built a laser, it has not produced a beam, developed beam control, or completed a tracking system; (3) SDIO built the primary SBCL mirror, but the mirror needed repairs and modifications for space operation; (4) SDIO indicated that SBCL and other research priorities remained unchanged; and (5) SDIO did not emphasize SBCL to the detriment of other laser technologies. GAO also found that: (1) SDIO planned to use a chemical laser experiment as a demonstration of U.S. potential to counter possible Soviet responses to SBCL deployment; (2) SDIO plans to space-test a laser technology 4 years earlier than originally scheduled, but the launch date has slipped; and (3) DOD determined that the proposed experiment complied with the traditional or restrictive interpretation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Jul 11, 2018

Jun 14, 2018

May 1, 2018

Apr 9, 2018

Feb 28, 2018

Jan 17, 2018

Dec 12, 2017

Dec 6, 2017

Oct 19, 2017

Oct 4, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here