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JSPES, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Summer 2004 )
pp. 143-190

The Rise and Fall of Brilliant Pebbles

Donald R. Baucom

The author traces the history of U.S. research into the development of a system of space-based missile interceptors known as Brilliant Pebbles (BP). Equipped with sensors, these kinetic-kill vehicles were designed to locate and collide with incoming ballistic missiles (BMs), thereby destroying them before they could reach their targets. Although the program was cancelled due to opposition in Congress, and lack of interest during the Clinton Administration, the aerospace technology developed utilized a combination of essentially off-the-shelf commercial and military technology that is still available to U.S. aerospace development.