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Showing posts from April 7, 2015

Field Guide to Flying Death: Going Fu#king Ballistic

Today on the bicycle ride, one of the faster riders I know was describing an even faster rider and how he won a race.  "He was f#cking ballistic," my friend said.

Actually he was not ballistic.  He was the opposite.  The picture below is a two Hellfire missiles under power launched by a Predator drone.  The rocket fuel is burning.

The next picture (below) is of a missile in its ballistic trajectory:  after the main rocket motor has fully burned.  Guidance motors still operate, but the missile is not under power, it is slowing down although it is traveling very fast.  From the time the main motor fully burns, the speed of the rocket is slowing and is determined by momentum, gravity, and wind resistance--by the laws of physics. It is flying in a "ballistic" path.
Ballistic means unpowered.  A bullet is ballistic AFTER it leaves the gun.

A missile is ballistic when it's flying toward its target after all the propellant has burned.  It is coasting.

My friend was de…