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Congressmen's Effort to Delay Laser Test Rejected by Pentagon

December 19, 1985|From a Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon Wednesday rejected a request by 30 members of Congress that a test of an X-ray laser be postponed until technical problems associated with the experiment have been corrected.

In a statement issued in response to reporters' questions, the Defense Department said that research on new nuclear systems requires underground tests "to incorporate learning derived from previous experiments."

"The technical issues which arose in the previous test will properly be addressed in the next scheduled one," it said.

'Star Wars' Test

The top-secret experiment, code-named Goldstone, is intended to test a potential element of the "Star Wars" program, officially the Strategic Defense Initiative, in which the United States is seeking to develop a space-based missile defense system.

The members of Congress had asked that the test be delayed until "technical problems have been corrected."

The Times reported last month that experts at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., which is to conduct the test, and scientists at another government weapons lab have said that a design error in a key measuring device used in past tests has led to false readings.

But in its statement, the Pentagon said: "There is no reason to postpone tests which are an integral and necessary part of our research on nuclear-driven directed energy concepts."

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