A Space Laser Battle Station

…that almost flew in the mid-1980s. From behind the veil of the Cold War, some previously unseen pictures have emerged. Note that this was while the Soviets were complaining about Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.

Via email from Jim Oberg, who notes:

This was the bird that the Soviet’s military built and planned to launch without telling Gorbachev — he found out, and ordered the rocket test to proceed but the payload to not be activated.

Conveniently — and I suspect, not accidentally — the orbit circularization burn at first apogee failed. May 1987, I recall.

Had it gone into orbit, while Reagan was president, it would likely have sparked a major ‘Stars Wars’ space military race with potentially dreadful consequences.