The historical aspect, present status, and future prospects of diode-pumped alkali lasers (DPAL) are discussed. DPAL is a relatively new laser, first reported in 2003. It is characterized by extremely high scalability, good beam quality by virtue of its gaseous laser medium, and intrinsically high efficiency because it is a three-level laser with a small Stokes defect. Because of these features, DPAL is being studied as a directed energy weapon and is also expected to find applications in industry and space. We propose the use of DPAL for space debris removal. Some of the research results of our group are also introduced.