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What Does Iron Dome Prove About Antimissile Systems?

The early success of Israel’s Iron Dome system may not mark a turning point for missile defense

3 min read
What Does Iron Dome Prove About Antimissile Systems?
Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

Fifty years ago last month, U.S. president John F. Kennedy said that Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union, had made an empty boast about his country’s anti missile missiles. “What you are trying to do is shoot a bullet with a bullet,” Kennedy said, coining an oft-repeated phrase. “Now, if you have a thousand bullets coming at you, that is a terribly difficult task which we have not mastered yet, and I don’t think he has. The offense has the advantage.”

Has Israel’s Iron Dome missile system finally proved the case for the defense? In November, during a six-day barrage from Gaza, the system reportedly intercepted about 85 percent of the rockets its algorithms deemed worth shooting at. 

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Two men fix metal rods to a gold-foiled satellite component in a warehouse/clean room environment

Technicians at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., work on a mockup of the JWST spacecraft bus—home of the observatory’s power, flight, data, and communications systems.


For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

When the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveals its first images on 12 July, they will be the by-product of carefully crafted mirrors and scientific instruments. But all of its data-collecting prowess would be moot without the spacecraft’s communications subsystem.

The Webb’s comms aren’t flashy. Rather, the data and communication systems are designed to be incredibly, unquestionably dependable and reliable. And while some aspects of them are relatively new—it’s the first mission to use Ka-band frequencies for such high data rates so far from Earth, for example—above all else, JWST’s comms provide the foundation upon which JWST’s scientific endeavors sit.

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