Talk:Ballistic missile

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This article doesn't make clear to me what differentiates a ballistic missile, like the V-2, from earlier experiments in rocketry. The first liquid-fueled rocket was the one built by Robert Goddard in 1926. Evidently "ballistic missile" means one possessing some characteristics that Goddard's rocket lacked, but the article doesn't explain this point. JamesMLane 15:45, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The article doesn't explain this point because it would cause a lot of confusion. The expression "ballistic missile" has been misused for so long that it seems impossible to turn the usage of this expression back to what it really means. A "ballistic missile" is a projectile without any propelling system, for example a cannonball made out of solid iron. Its trajectory is a parabola,
But the expression "ballistic missile" has been used for so long for weapons which are obvious "non-ballistic" because they are propelled by a rocket or some other kind of motor. A "non-ballistic" weapon like the Nazi V-2 or the modern Tomahawk cruise missile can take many different trajectories towards the target, because it has a motor and direction changing devices. In a world where "non-ballistic" weapons are called "ballistic missiles" there is no easy way to re-form the language back to what it really means, and what it meant before people started building "non-ballistic" weapons and they, for some strange reason decided to call them "ballistic missiles".
(The strange reason is probably that the people who calculated ballistic trajectories of old iron cannonballs formed a group of "ballistics experts", and they had already coined the term "ballistics" so later the trajectories of all weapons launched through the air was handled by the ballistics experts group. And once they had formed a group of "ballistics experts" they wanted to control also the new "non-ballistic" projectiles, so they boldly called "non-ballistic" projectiles "ballistic missiles"). This shows how a close-knit group of people, like the "ballistics experts", can change the meaning of words to the opposite when it is in their interest. Human group bonds are stronger than logic and languages. Roger491127 (talk) 06:25, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
What a nonsense!
      • A ballistic missile is a MISSILE, i. e., by defenition, a guided weapon with internal source of propulsion. Iron cannonballs never was missiles.
      • Ballistic missiles are exactly ballistic in the very same sense iron cannonballs are. The motor and and the guidance devices of a ballistic missile operate only during a short initial period of the flight (and, in some novel designs, during a short terminal period). After burnout (i. e. termination of operation of the motor) a ballistic missile travels exactly like a big cannonball (or an artillery shell). This is the reason why "people who calculated ballistic trajectories of old iron cannonballs" contributed to the theory and design of the new weapon. But most influential group in the field of ballistic missiles was formed by "rocket scientists" like Von Braun, who generally lacked a "cannonball pedegree". (talk) 06:31, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

Mainly the distinction is that ballistic missiles are intended as weapons. Goddard's first rocket was an experiment in propulsion and rocket design; it was not a weapon. There are also a number of features common to all ballistic missiles that had not been figured out yet in the early days of rocketry - putting the rocket engine below the payload instead of above is a notable one. Ballistic missiles also require a sophisticated control system if they are to impact sufficiently near their target; since Goddard's was not a weapon, it lacked such a system. Not that all modern ballistic missiles are great in that area, either - the Scud (basically a modified V-2) is infamous for its inaccuracy in its early variants. --Fasrad 03:35, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

I agree that according to the definition given there were many weapons before the V-2 that were ballistic missiles. Rockets have been used as weapons for a long time (see the article History of rockets), and once the engine had finished firing, they were ballistic. (They were not cruise missiles.) I'm gonna take out the sentence saying that the V-2 was the first. If someone can give a different definition (with reference) then maybe the V-2 will qualify. Eric Kvaalen (talk) 12:28, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

Picture size[edit]

Pictures corrected and made to the default size of 250 pix. Additon of Agni-series. --Chanakyathegreat 07:36, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

Shahab missiles[edit]

  • Given that the Shahab-4 & 5 have been cancelled and never actually manufactured what is the point in even mentioning them in the article (as missiles that never existed!)? Kiumars

What does this mean, anyway?[edit]


I saw this: "These missiles can have an impact on the ground that can cause massive damage. These missiles can make a 35 mile crater and have an effect up to over 1200 km. The explosion may only affect 3/4 of the blast but all people will die in days from radiation."

It's not the impact itself that causes the damage, it's the detonation of the nuclear warheads. Also, how can it affect a 1200-km radius? Is this referring to the nuclear fallout, or the blast itself? Does it have to do with atmospheric focusing? And wouldn't a 35-mile crater require a much bigger explosion than any nuke we've ever built (that is about 1/3 the size of the Chicxulub crater!)? Is there a cite for this? mike4ty4 22:20, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

This was removed a while ago. It isn't the missile that causes the damage; it's the warhead. The amount of the damage the warhead does depends on the size or power of the device as measured in megatons. Gingermint (talk) 18:47, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

Missile Types[edit]

I noticed that someone gave the missile types for all Chinese ballistic missiles, but for most other nations, it either says their country name or nothing at all. It would be useful if someone were to change all that. I would, but some of the linked articles have unsourced statements to what type of missile it is (i.e. France's Hades missile is said to be SRBM but there is no source for that information), and I don't have the expertise myself. Mgraham1985 (talk) 18:24, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

massive vandalism[edit]

someone is deleting a lot of articles, using anonmous ip addresses, and one of the administrators protect this article so it can only be edited by registered members.

Flight Trajectory[edit]

The "Flight" section defines three stages of flight, the third being to re-enter the atmosphere. But the Intro tells us that some ballistic missiles don't leave the atmosphere. I have modified the text by moving a sentence from another section to clarify the distinction—but an expert opinion would be helpful to ensure that my edit is accurately worded.

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