Skip to main content
49 votes
Accepted

What are the pros and cons of Aerospike nosecones?

Aerospike nosecones have a couple of big benefits which, to fully appreciate, I'd need to give a little background on. At the risk of dating myself, "Sherman, set the WABAC machine to the 1950s": ...
Steve's user avatar
  • 596
44 votes
Accepted

Why does the Minotaur I wear a yellow jacket that "banana-peels" off as it launches?

The jacket is to control the Propellant Mean Bulk Temperature, a critical factor in solid rocket motor performance. The silos for the missiles that the launcher was derived from were air-conditioned ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
36 votes
Accepted

Why doesn't the USA use structurally stronger rockets for the more important launches?

I think you got it wrong: R-7 launches sometimes are also postponed due to weather. Just to name few examples: 18 December 2018, 9 March 2018, 22 April 2016 - Kouru; March 22, 2016 - Baikonur, 2 ...
Sergei Ozerov's user avatar
28 votes

Why doesn't the USA use structurally stronger rockets for the more important launches?

This question is based on several serious misconceptions. R-7 launches never get postponed due to weather. Actually, they do. "The launch of the Soyuz 2-1A modernized carrier rocket, scheduled for ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
28 votes
Accepted

Why is the tip of this Russian ICBM folding/closing during launch?

I believe that these are actually screenshots of another rocket RT-23 Molodets (NATO reporting name: SS-24 Scalpel).. The same folding nose cone exists at 1:13 of YouTube video dedicated to SS-24. SS-...
WOW 6EQUJ5's user avatar
  • 2,321
25 votes
Accepted

What benefits can be gained from launching below ground?

This is essentially piston launch; in principle a deep enough hole could let you get the piston up to speeds approaching the speed of sound in the expanding gas driving the piston. Assuming you're ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
21 votes

What are the pros and cons of Aerospike nosecones?

You'll notice it is used on submarine launched ICBMs. Blunt noses are very efficient for the missile to get out of water (and are shorter than long, profiled ones, which helps with submarine diameter),...
Khay's user avatar
  • 311
18 votes

What benefits can be gained from launching below ground?

Note that for silo launched missiles the exhaust is typically vented out of the silo instead of serving to pressurize the silo. Why are they vented? An unvented silo would vastly increase the ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
12 votes

Why doesn't the USA use structurally stronger rockets for the more important launches?

Structural strength is not the only factor in rockets dealing with weather, they are already designed to withstand many Gs of acceleration carrying tons of explosive fuel. Flying through a cloud isn't ...
GdD's user avatar
  • 20.3k
9 votes

What kind of missions are US surplus ICBM's capable of launching?

This is actually a bit tricky, and relates to one of the basic tenants of the space race. The United States made small, accurate weapons, the USSR made large, less accurate weapons. Because the USSRs ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
8 votes
Accepted

Besides the video game and Nine Inch Nails box set, what is HALO-IV? How does it relate to the testing of ICBM interceptors?

Well, since I used to work for 'em (L3), I'll omit the argument about whether is this on-topic: HALO stands for High Altitude Observatory. It's an airplane (several airplanes) The existing contract ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
7 votes

What benefits can be gained from launching below ground?

What benefits can be gained? Energy-wise, not so much. You're basically talking about a variant of a first stage, but one that only helps for the first few seconds. A real benefit however might be ...
MSalters's user avatar
  • 1,644
6 votes

What benefits can be gained from launching below ground?

Benefits: less fuel needed to reach orbit Problems: To get enough speed to matter, you need a long track = a deep shaft. 3 km is about the practical limit. To get the rocket (let's say this ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
6 votes
Accepted

How do ICBMs compare to civilian rockets in terms of $/kg to orbit?

Nuclear warheads are relatively light payloads by modern standards. A single US W88 warhead and its reentry vehicle are probably in the ballpark of 250-300kg. Minuteman III carries 3 such, i.e. ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
4 votes

What kind of missions are US surplus ICBM's capable of launching?

The Trident D5 appears to have just enough impulse to reach orbit without its normal payload. This summary, and its daughter pages for each stage provide enough information to determine that whilst ...
Puffin's user avatar
  • 9,724
4 votes
Accepted

How to decide if the rocket most recently tested by North Korean is classified as long-range or medium-range launch?

Ballistic missiles are usually divided into groups based on range. These groups were originally defined by the US military. Intercontinental (ICBM), with a range of more than 5500 km, i.e. able to ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
4 votes

What benefits can be gained from launching below ground?

Since nobody else has included this in their answer yet: What benefits can be gained from launching below ground? Secrecy about exactly what rocket is there, what it has on top, and its launch ...
WBT's user avatar
  • 1,144
4 votes

What benefits can be gained from launching below ground?

I would not make it on a chemical basis but rather on an electromagnetical like the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EALS) that is currently introduced on the new aircraft carriers of the ...
CKA's user avatar
  • 546
4 votes
Accepted

Why don't silo-launched Minuteman missiles incinerate themselves at launch?

Am I interpreting this correctly? Yes Was the Minuteman made specially flame retardant? No. 1) The hottest part of the exhaust is below the rocket. 2) Metal (Probably Al or an Al alloy) is fairly ...
Mattman944's user avatar
3 votes
Accepted

"Tandel Missile" design with engines forward of their fuel tanks

I can't think of a production missile or launcher that used this setup, but it's not a crazy idea. One of the major drivers for the final "stage-and-a-half" design of the Atlas, with its ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
3 votes

Would ICBM warheads be visible after separation from the booster and prior to reentry?

Answer: Maybe Visibility = area x albedo / altitude MIRVs are about 2 meters long, about the same size as a Starlink satellite bus. Starlink solar panels are significantly larger than 2 meters, but ...
Woody's user avatar
  • 22.4k
2 votes

ICBMs versus number of available warheads

Using an ICBM for a single strike is politically unlikely. The receiving state (esp. if it's a nuclear power) will assume incoming ICBM = the beginning of nuclear war and will launch its own missiles ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible