March 15 - September 8, 2024
On March 23, 1983 in a televised address to the nation, President Ronald Reagan announced his intention to embark upon groundbreaking research into a national defense system that could make nuclear weapons obsolete, called the Strategic Defense Initiative, or SDI. The heart of the SDI program was a plan to develop a space-based missile defense program that could protect the country from a large-scale nuclear attack. The media quickly began calling the program “Star Wars,” since it seemed as impossible as the events of a galaxy far, far away.
With SDI, President Reagan was able to unleash America’s entrepreneurial spirit. The project ultimately helped end the Cold War. It not only revolutionized the way we think about missile defense, but also led to significant advancements in other areas of technology such as satellite surveillance and communications. America and allies around the world benefit from it today.
Just a few years prior, George Lucas launched the Star Wars franchise with Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Since its inception, Star Wars has been a phenomenon that transcends generations. The concept of "the force" and epic battle scenes have captivated audiences for decades and continue to do so with each new release.
After Ronald Reagan announced SDI, the media sarcastically dubbed it “Star Wars” since it seemed to rely on futuristic technology, including space-based laser systems that had not yet been developed, although the idea had been portrayed as real in science fiction.
Darth Vader Helmet
Star Wars may have been a transformative movie, but SDI transformed our national security.
Opening on March 15, 2024, join us at the Reagan Library for a fun and informative exhibition on Star Wars – both the real-world technology of SDI, as well as items from the movie phenomenon. The exhibition will include original items from SDI including an authentic Command Launch Equipment Console, as well as props, costumes, and concept art from the Star Wars franchise, including a Landspeeder made for A New Hope, master replicas of Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber made from the original mold of The Last Jedi, and an original script signed by Dave Prowse (actor who portrayed Darth Vader in the original trilogy).
*This exhibition, nor the artifacts displayed within, are affiliated with Disney or Lucas Films.*