New Callings

While Lincoln Laboratory was busy first developing and then transitioning the SAGE system, the world was changing. By the early 1960s, just as SAGE was becoming operational, a new threat began to appear on the horizon, that of Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles, which made the bomber threat and the system designed to counter it essentially obsolete. Lincoln Laboratory's role in SAGE was completed by that time. However, on the basis of its considerable expertise in radar and large-scale system prototyping developed during the SAGE period, the Laboratory was ideally poised to take on these new challenges to national security. The next major mission that the Laboratory took on was that of defending the nation against the threat of Soviet nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.

Semyorka ICBM

1960s-era Soviet ICBM

The new threat: Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in the 1960s. Left: Soviet SS-6 Semyorka ICBM. Above: SS-6 reentry vehicle with 10,000 lb/3 megaton payload.


Aerial view of Kwajalein

Above: Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, site of technology development and testing for ballistic missile defense. Lincoln Laboratory's role at Kwajalein began in the early 1960s.
Right: Spartan and Sprint anti-ballistic missile interceptor launches out of Kwajalein in the mid-1960s.

Anti-ballistic missile interceptor

Anti-ballistic missile interceptor

Today Lincoln Laboratory has active programs in Air and Missile Defense, Space Control, Air Traffic Control, Homeland Protection, Tactical Systems, Communication Systems, Cyber Security and Information Sciences, ISR Systems and Technology, and Advanced Electronics. Air defense, the Laboratory's initial calling, remains a core mission, as was evidenced when the Laboratory was called upon to design and build an air defense system for the Washington, D.C., National Capital Region following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Across the mission areas that the Laboratory now supports, the key lessons learned during the Rad Lab and SAGE experiences remain strong. These include performing the trades and analyses up front to define a system concept that will solve the problem at hand; developing the key technologies needed to make the system concept work; prototyping and testing the end-to-end system in a realistic operational environment; and, once the concept is proven, transitioning it to government and industry, and moving on to the next problem of consequence. SAGE represents the first chapter of what is now a very rich history of Lincoln Laboratory's contributions to national security; however, the problem-solving approaches and culture established during those initial experiences remain very much a part of the Laboratory today.

  UAV ATC room Cell  
Kwajalein Lincoln Laboratory HMMWV
  Micrograph of circuit Millstone radar Radar on ship  



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