A ballistic missile is a missile which gets out of the earth's atmosphere and into space. Although the missile does exit the earth's atmosphere, it does not reach a sufficient altitude and angle to orbit. Rather, it returns to earth, completing the arch of its ballistic trajectory. Most ballistic missiles are ground-to-ground based, although they can also be launched from sea-based platforms (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile). Some have enough range to reach another continent; these are known as Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Ballistic missiles were first developed by the Germans during World War II.
Many ICBMs carry nuclear warheads, although traditional explosives are also commonly used in this weapon.
- "After launch, a ballistic missiles arches up from one point, and lands at another point. What is a Ballistic Missile?