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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 526-97
October 02, 1997

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE APPROVES LASER EXPERIMENT TO IMPROVE SATELLITE PROTECTION

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen today has approved an experiment that will be used to reduce the vulnerability of U.S. satellite systems. The purpose of the experiment is to collect data that will help improve computer models used for planning protection measures for U.S. satellites.

The experiment is being conducted by the U.S. Army's Mid-Infra-Red Advanced Chemical Laser (MIRACL) located at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The satellite that will be used for the test, the U.S. Air Force Miniature Sensor Technology Integration program's third satellite (MSTI-3), has exceeded its useful lifetime. The experiment will have two parts: (1) very brief laser illuminations of less than one second, and (2) an illumination of less than 10 seconds.

The experiment is fully consistent with U.S. policy and U.S. and international law. It will not destroy the craft, result in any orbital debris, nor pose any risk to other satellites.

The experiment is expected to be conducted in the next few days, weather conditions permitting.

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