5 Facts About Ballistic Missiles


A ballistic missile is a missile that follows a ballistic trajectory with the objective of delivering one or more warheads to a predetermined target.

In physics, the ballistic trajectory of a projectile is the path that a thrown or launched projectile or missile without propulsion will take under the action of gravity, neglecting all other forces, such as friction from aerodynamic drag.

In modern usage, a missile is a self-propelled precision-guided munition system, as opposed to an unguided self-propelled munition, referred to as a rocket.

The term warhead refers to the explosive or toxic material that is delivered by a missile, rocket, or torpedo.

U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System Intercept Against ... by AiirSource Military


A ballistic missile is only guided during relatively brief periods of flight, and most of its trajectory is unpowered and governed by gravity and air resistance if in the atmosphere.

US official: Iran conducts another ballistic missile test by Fox News


This contrasts to a cruise missile, which is aerodynamically guided in powered flight.

A cruise missile is a guided missile used against terrestrial targets that remains in the atmosphere and flies the major portion of its flight path at approximately constant speed.


Long range intercontinental ballistic missiles are launched on a sub-orbital flight trajectory and spend most of their flight out of the atmosphere.

A sub-orbital spaceflight is a spaceflight in which the spacecraft reaches space, but its trajectory intersects the atmosphere or surface of the gravitating body from which it was launched, so that it does not complete one orbital revolution.

An intercontinental ballistic missile is a guided ballistic missile with a minimum range of 5,500 kilometres primarily designed for nuclear weapons delivery.


Shorter range ballistic missiles stay within the Earth's atmosphere.

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