For most of my life, that was a ray gun. It looked kind of like a real gun, but cuter. It did serious damage. Sometimes people would just fall down and die when you pointed it at them. Other times it would burn a whole straight through them, other times it would make a person vanish entirely. Ray guns were serious business. To make ray guns even scarier, they were attached to space ships that could destroy everything in its path:
That was then, that was fantasy. This is now:
With a successful ground test in the bag, the Missile Defense Agency is pushing forward with plans for an Airborne Laser (ABL), a Boeing 747 freighter aircraft with a laser-tipped nose designed to destroy ballistic missiles as they rocket through the sky.
The defense system’s primary weapon — a megawatt-class chemical laser beam — passed an initial ground-based test last week and a number subsystems have been integrated into the ABL aircraft, Missile Defense Agency (MDA) officials told SPACE.com. If all goes well, a integrated prototype of the Airborne Laser will soon be shooting down missiles in tests over the Pacific Ocean.
This laser they’re talking about is more wicked than anything dreamed up in the movies. It uses laser sensors to track everything in its target path, and nail them all. You just turn it on. There’s no flopping around, aiming and shooting like Star Wars, it’s all computerized.
And, it actually looks a little scarier than it does in the movies too