West Virginia’s Republican nominee for Senate, John Raese, recommended Tuesday that the US put 1,000 lasers into space.
We shall call it the “Alan Parsons Project”…
But seriously – according to Raese, “We are sitting with the only technology in the world that works and it’s laser technology. We need 1,000 laser systems put in the sky and we need it right now. That is [of] paramount importance.”
The only logical explanation anyone can come up with for Raese’s claim is that he could be talking about a program that is decades from development and a few major treaties down the road… and we all know how easy those are to get passed, right?
Riki Ellison, the chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said that Raese appeared to be referring to DPALs (diode pumped alkali lasers), which have shown great promise in the field of missile defense but – at least at current funding levels for the development of such programs – could take two decades to develop. He said that the development of DPAL technology would be accelerated by Raese’s proposed budget infusion (the Obama administration recently reduced funding for the Missile Defense Agency). But, he added, deploying that technology in space would require the negotiation of a treaty among world powers.
“That’s a significant policy challenge,” Ellison said.
The idea of space based missile defense is nothing new, but Raese’s understanding of the subject seems to be a little lacking – particularly his very specific pronouncement that the program he speaks of would cost only $20 billion. With this project so far from completion, nobody can know what price tag a system like DPALs could eventually rack up.
Speaking of DPALs, George Herbert Walker Bush promulgated a close relative of this program called GPALS, or Global Protection Against Limited Strikes. It never was deployed.
Maybe Raese is confused with Bush the father’s 1,000 points of light program (don’t ask).