Courtesy Reuters

The program known as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) includes research on a variety of technologies—many aimed at distinct phases of the ballistic missile flight path. For each phase—boost, post-boost, mid-course and terminal —a defense would require successful surveillance, target acquisition, tracking, guidance of the weapons, and kill mechanisms. Are the objectives of SDI technically feasible?

The answer will depend primarily on what specific objectives strategic defenses ultimately seek to achieve—protection of population, of missile silos, of other military targets. Within that context, the answer will further depend on the capabilities of the technologies and on the

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