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The Pentagon wants to explore the utility of a neutral particle-beam weapon in orbit as a missile defense weapon, according to its 2020 budget proposal. It's just one of many ways the US is rushing to become the first nation to introduce weapons into space. It sounds more like a fixture in a science fiction film than something you'd find on the Pentagon's budgetary requests, but the proposal for Fiscal Year 2020's budget includes a $304 million request for funding for a program to develop directed energy weapons that can be deployed in space as a next-generation missile defense system, Defense One reported Thursday. The problem is, these weapons don't exist right now. That means that first the Pentagon must demonstrate that such a weapon is possible before it can even begin to develop a device usable for missile defense, something it's requested $15 million and six months of time to do. The MIssile Defense Agency (MDA) hopes to have a working weapon in orbit by 2023.