if companies experience a lot of trial and error getting rockets into space (because, ya know, rocket science… is hard) how do we know ICBMs won’t fail in their trajectory?

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It just seems like a lot of ICBMs may be based on older technology, and even the new space exploration companies out there have a lot of difficulty along the way. In an extinction-level, all-out nuclear war, are we even sure ICBMs and other similar weapons won’t fail?

In: Physics

3 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

You can never be sure something won’t fail, but the important difference here is, as you said, these space companies that experience failures are predominantly testing new developments. The starship for instance is in development and a unique craft. The ICBMs that will be carrying nukes around the world are old, tested technology. The bigger issue with them is going to be failures due to age.

Anonymous 0 Comments

getting humans to space and firing missiles are different engineering feats.

we put men on the moon in 1969; so clearly “old” technology does not mean bad or ineffective

ICBMs are based on lots of existing technology and configurations; SpaceX and others are using brand new designs and brand new technologies…….sometimes old, tried and true works just fine

Anonymous 0 Comments

In theory, we don’t, but ICBMs have been tested time and again. Also, ICBMs aren’t that complicated. Launching a payload from one point to another through a ballistic trajectory does not require many maneuvers; it’s essentially the simplest spaceflight trajectory involving a vehicle leaving the Earth and coming back. ICBMs are designed to be self-sufficient, navigating using inertial navigation systems to avoid reliance on external sources like GPS.

The only reliability risk is that if nuclear war breaks out, some of the missiles might be duds due to age, but that’s why the U.S. has thousands of them. I assume the military has taken in to account that a percentage of the missiles will be duds regardless of maintenance procedures.