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The 80s
1981 - present
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Lew Allen
  Lew Allen was JPL Director from 1982 to 1990.
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  During the 1980s, JPL partly returned to its Army roots. A central concept of military thought in this period was that better "Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence" (or "C3I"), could make the Army more powerful without needing more soldiers. (In military jargon, technologies like this are "force multipliers.") The Army wanted an integrated combat management system that would permit real-time battlefield analysis. This effort became JPL's largest single military project during the 1980s, under the name All-Source Analysis System. It was first used operationally during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

While this analysis system was a relatively large project, most of the rest of JPL's defense business during the 1980s was in myriad small technology developments. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Strategic Defense Initiative Office funded research in remote sensors, microelectronics, spacecraft propulsion, software development, artificial intelligence, and simulation.

The Defense Department's share of JPL's budget peaked in 1987 at 35 percent, or $355 million. The revival of NASA's planetary program put JPL up against its labor cap, and the lab had to start turning military business away. JPL's defense-related work stabilized at around five percent of its budget during the 1990s, and the lab focused on spacecraft and remote sensing technologies that contribute to both planetary and military spacecraft needs.
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