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Ballistic missile

A ballistic missile is a missile with a prescribed course that cannot be altered after the missile has burned its fuel, whereafter is course is governed by the laws of ballistics. In order to cover large distances ballistic missiles must be launched very high into the air and often into low earth orbit. Ballistic missiles are generally designed to deliver nuclear weapons because chemical and biological payloads tend to be damaged by the extreme temperatures of re-entry, and because delivering conventional warheads by ballistic missiles tends to be extremely inefficient.

Many advanced ballistic missiles have several rocket stages and their course can be slightly adjusted from one stage to the next.

Ballistic missiles can vary widely in range and use, and are often divided into categories based on range. Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) are long range (greater than 5500 km) missiles. Medium to short range missiles are often called theatre ballistic missiles (TBM).

Specific types of ballistic missiles include: we should probably organize by range for ease of use!

launched from fixed sites, mobile launchers and submarines.

Specific types of ballistic missile submarines include:

See also: Anti-ballistic missile, Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, nuclear disarmament, nuclear warfare, submarine, Submarine launched ballistic missile.


An introduction to ballistic missiles: http://www.fas.org/nuke/intro/missile/index

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