A group of scientists on Wednesday told lawmakers that a missile defense plan will not protect the U.S. from a real missile attack. However, George C. Marshall Institute President Jeff Kueter said the anti-missile program is making progress and will improve with further testing and research.
Three American Airlines jetliners will be equipped with anti-missile jammers this spring as part of government tests. The goal of the program is to thwart terrorists armed with shoulder-fired projectiles. American agreed to participate in the program, but a spokesman noted that the carrier is "philosophically opposed" to anti-missile technology because its benefits do not outweigh the high costs.
El Al Israel Airlines has equipped all of its jets with anti-missile systems. The airline is the first to install the systems on its entire fleet. Some carriers believe the systems are too expensive and unreliable. The White House has encouraged studies of the systems but may instead support missile defense systems for airports.
The late Ronald Reagan was the architect of the original Star Wars plan for an anti-missile program in space. The current anti-missile program is smaller and land-based, but critics question whether it has been properly tested.
A robotic service mission to the Hubble Space Telescope might be feasible, NASA officials said. The agency is waiting for a report from the National Academy of Sciences about options for saving Hubble, but is also considering issuing a request for proposals as early as this fall for an unmanned mission.