Bad Idea: Space-Based Missile Interceptors

person watching a rocket launch
Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force/ U.S. Government Work

After its characteristic hibernation period between Republican administrations, the idea to place missile interceptors in space is back again. This idea was endearingly dubbed Brilliant Pebbles in the George H.W. Bush administration and was pursued as part of the Strategic Defense Initiative. Many researchers have commented on the troubling political consequences of a space-based missile interceptor system and the fact that such a system would be roundly regarded as overt weaponization of space. Beyond these policy arguments, space-based missile interceptors are a bad idea because of their inefficiency and vulnerability. Investments in missile defense would be better directed to other, more effective areas.

The Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDDA) authorizes…

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