An "Alpha" chemical laser device zapped a high-power beam of light in a space-like vacuum, and the Pentagon hailed the test Monday as a major milestone in the "Star Wars" chemical laser program.

"We've made a very big step forward here," said Neil Griff, the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization's manager for chemical lasers.The Alpha device, a cylinder that appeared on videotape to be about 6-feet wide and 12-feet tall - its dimensions are classified - produced the beam for the first time at its testing facility at San Juan Capistrano, Calif., on Friday.

Scientists shut down the laser after its beam connected with its target, a wall-mounted calibrator.