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TRW Conducts Record-Setting Test of Alpha Laser

Photonics.com
Apr 2000
REDONDO BEACH, Calif., April 25 -- TRW reported that a test of the Alpha high-energy laser produced a 25-percent increase in the laser's output power and improved its quality. The six-second test of the megawatt-class TRW-built laser was performed March 28, 2000, at TRW's test site in Capistrano, Calif., as part of the Alpha Laser Optimization program; the program is funded jointly by the US Air Force and Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.
TRW declared that the test -- which marked the 22nd successful firing of the Alpha -- was a significant step forward in the maturation of the technology needed to design and deploy the Space-Based Laser Integrated Flight Experiment (SBL IFX). The SBL IFX is an experimental space-based missile defense system under development by the US Air Force.
The data gathered during this test of laser performance and beam uniformity is a critical part of the process we're using to develop and validate next-generation laser design tools, explained Dan Wildt, SBL IFX program manager for TRW. The more we understand about Alpha's performance under a variety of operating conditions, the better we'll be able to design and produce a laser optimized for the size, weight and performance requirements of the SBL IFX.


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