Thunder over the Horizon: From V-2 Rockets to Ballistic Missiles

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The powered flight portion can last from a few tenths of seconds to several minutes and can consist of multiple rocket stages. When in space no more thrust is provided, the missile enters free-flight. The re-entry stage begins at an altitude where atmospheric drag plays a significant part in missile trajectory , and lasts until missile impact. The course taken by ballistic missiles has two significant desirable properties. First, ballistic missiles that fly above the atmosphere have a much longer range than would be possible for cruise missiles of the same size. Powered rocket flight through thousands of kilometers of air would require vastly greater amounts of fuel, making the launch vehicles larger and easier to detect and intercept.

Powered missiles that can cover similar ranges, such as cruise missiles, do not use rocket motors for the majority of their flight, but instead use more economical jet engines.

However, cruise missiles have not made ballistic missiles obsolete, due to the second major advantage: ballistic missiles can travel extremely quickly along their flight path. Therefore, ballistic missiles are some of the most feared weapons available, despite the fact that cruise missiles are cheaper, more mobile, and more versatile.

Ballistic missiles can vary widely in range and use, and are often divided into categories based on range. Various schemes are used by different countries to categorize the ranges of ballistic missiles:.

ballistic missile

Tactical, short- and medium-range missiles are often collectively referred to as tactical and theatre ballistic missiles , respectively. Long- and medium-range ballistic missiles are generally designed to deliver nuclear weapons because their payload is too limited for conventional explosives to be cost-effective in comparison to conventional bomber aircraft though the U.

Throw-weight is a measure of the effective weight of ballistic missile payloads. It is measured in kilograms or tonnes. Throw-weight equals the total weight of a missile's warheads , reentry vehicles , self-contained dispensing mechanisms, penetration aids , and missile guidance systems: generally all components except for the launch rocket booster and launch fuel.

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Throw-weight may refer to any type of warhead, but in normal modern usage, it almost refers to almost exclusively nuclear or thermonuclear payloads. Throw-weight was used as a criterion in classifying different types of missiles during Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the Soviet Union and the United States. Throw-weight is normally calculated using an optimal ballistic trajectory from one point on the surface of the Earth to another. It is measured in kilograms or tonnes.

Throw-weight equals the total weight of a missile's warheads , reentry vehicles , self-contained dispensing mechanisms, penetration aids , and missile guidance systems: generally all components except for the launch rocket booster and launch fuel. Throw-weight may refer to any type of warhead, but in normal modern usage, it almost refers to almost exclusively nuclear or thermonuclear payloads.

Throw-weight was used as a criterion in classifying different types of missiles during Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the Soviet Union and the United States. Throw-weight is normally calculated using an optimal ballistic trajectory from one point on the surface of the Earth to another. An optimal trajectory maximizes the total payload throw-weight using the available impulse of the missile. By reducing the payload weight, different trajectories can be selected, which can either the nominal range or decrease the total time in flight.

Ballistic missile

A depressed trajectory is a non-optimal, as a lower and flatter trajectory takes less time between launch and impact but has a lower throw-weight. The primary reasons to choose a depressed trajectory are to evade anti-ballistic missile systems by reducing the time available to shoot down the attacking vehicle especially during the vulnerable burn-phase against space-based ABM systems or a nuclear first-strike scenario. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses. Home FAQ Contact. Ballistic missile Wikipedia open wikipedia design.

For self-navigating guided cruise missiles, see Cruise missile.

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