An electromagnetic missile launcher is disclosed that avoids some of the costs and disadvantages of missile launchers in the prior art. In particular, an embodiment of the present invention uses a pilot accelerator that comprises an electromagnetic booster coil to improve the efficiency of an electromagnetic catapult that throws a missile clear of the launch platform--with sufficient velocity to attain aerodynamic flight--before the missile's engine is ignited.
 This invention was made with Government support under Cooperative Research and Development Agreement No. SC99/01573 awarded by the Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in the invention.