September 13, 1985: Anti-Satellite Missile Testing

  • Published
  • Air Force Flight Test Center

Then-Major Wilbert D.Pearson zoom-climbed a specially-configured F-15A to 80,000 feet and launched a Vought ASM-135A anti-satellite missile against an orbiting Solwind P78-1 satellite. The missile’s miniature kinetic-kill vehicle intercepted and destroyed the target satellite, which had previously completed its gamma ray spectroscopy mission. This marked the first time that a satellite had been destroyed from an aircraft. International arms-control questions limited this to the only time the anti-satellite missile was used against a satellite in space.

General Pearson entered the Air Force in 1970 as a distinguished graduate of Officer Training School. He is a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours in the F-4, F-15, F-20, F/A-22, T-38 and more than 50 other aircraft. His flying includes 364 combat hours during the Vietnam conflict. He commanded the F-15 anti-satellite Combined Test Force during the time of peak flight activity and, while flying an F-15, launched the first anti-satellite missile which successfully intercepted and destroyed a satellite in earth orbit. Prior to assuming his current position, the general served as director of operations for Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

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