Is Space the Next Frontier of Missile Defense?

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Relations between the United States and North Korea hit a new low following Pyongyang’s test of an ICBM July 4. With a range of up to 5,000 miles – capable of reaching Alaska – the Hwasong-14 is North Korea’s longest-range missile to date, and its successful test is a direct challenge to U.S. President Donald Trump, who claimed in January that a North Korean ICBM capable of reaching the United States “won’t happen!” Now, as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gloats over his Independence Day gift for the “American bastards,” the White House is rushing to ratchet up diplomatic and economic pressure on the hermit kingdom.

However, in the event that diplomacy does not work, there is a fallback option. The American ballistic missile defense system is the last line of defense against a ballistic missile strike in the United States. Decades in the making, a successful missile intercept test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System (GMD) in May proved that U.S. missile defense umbrella can work. Yet that umbrella is still far from perfect.

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