Second Flight of DARPA’s HTV-2 does not go as well as its first

by Mark R

DARPA is always coming out with some interesting experimental stuff, and the latest is the Falcon Hypersonic Technology 2 (HTV-2).

It was just given a field test today, and it was launched aboard a Minotaur IV Lite rock from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It was expected to glide over the Pacific Ocean and deliberately splash down near Kwajalein Atoll, 4,000 miles away at a speed of 13,000 miles per hour.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like things went as planned. DARPA has reported via tweet that “downrange assets did not reacquire tracking or telemetry. #HTV2 has an autonomous flight termination capability”. What you see in the image is an artist’s conception.

It is too bad, as 13,000 mph is more than impressive. At that speed, you can go from New York to Los Angeles in about 12 minutes. This is actually the second test for this vehicle, and the first flight in April 2010 produced the impressive result of Mach 17-22 for 139 seconds. During that test, the fast-moving craft still maintained a GPS signal and two-way communication.

Hopefully, more tests will be conducted to see if communication signals can be performed at high speeds. However, if these aircrafts are flying this fast, perhaps the plane will arrive faster than it takes the message to transmit.


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