The Bush administration is seeking to develop a powerful ground-based laser weapon that would use beams of concentrated light to destroy enemy satellites in orbit.
The largely secret project, parts of which have been made public through Air Force budget documents submitted to Congress in February, is part of a wide-ranging effort to develop space weapons, both defensive and offensive. No treaty or law forbids such work.
The laser research was described by federal officials who would speak only on the condition of anonymity because of the topic's political sensitivity. The White House has recently sought to play down the issue of space arms, fearing it could become an election-year liability.