DARPA Launches and Loses Hypersonic Aircraft: Update
Aug. 11, 2011 -- UPDATE: DARPA has lost contact with its experimental hypersonic glider -- and possibly lost the vehicle itself -- following the latest test flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the Central Coast of Calif. Tuesday morning.The unmanned Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 -- a test rocket designed to fly at Mach 20, or around 13,000 miles per hour -- successfully launched at approximately 7:45 a.m. PDT and separated properly from the rocket carrying it to the edge of space. But the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a military research group, revealed on Twitter that it had lost sight of the missile once it entered its mission glide phase.
DARPA's Falcon HTV-2 complete flight overview - (edited by robotpig.net)
“Range assets have lost telemetry with HTV2," the agency announced shortly after the flight. "Downrange assets did not reacquire tracking or telemetry. HTV2 has an autonomous flight termination capability. More to follow,” the agency wrote about an hour later. The Central Coast fog was too dense to see the glider take-off -- only the sounds of the launch resonated through the air. No light from the Falcon was visible, all that was seen was a whiteout from the fog and green hills in the foreground. But when the aircraft was in flight, the latest status report was broadcast across the Air Force base from a loudspeaker where attendees watched the launch. Over that Countdown Network, the Range Launch Conductor said that it had lost optical site of the HTV-2 At approximately 8:15 a.m. PDT. After 2,700 seconds of flight, the launch ended, a fate reminiscent of the April 2010 initial test flight that also ended when the military lost contact with the vehicle. A Vandenberg Air Force Base spokesman called the launch a success; DARPA has not responded to repeated FoxNews.com calls, however, and emails to DARPAs representatives working on the project went unanswered. Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, former U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, told Fox News that the weapon is designed to be able to hit targets anywhere within minutes. But whether it will be realized is in doubt, in light of the two unsuccessful test flights to date. "I think that we've seen from what happened today and what happened last April that there are a lot of challenges in front of it." The overall cost of the program is a key issue, McInerney noted. "It costs about 1 billion dollars if we wanted to field about 10 or 20 of them per weapon ... and that's just not affordable," he said. The project began in 2003 and cost $320 million, according to Bloomberg News. "It is a marvelous research and development exercise, we've learned a lot about hypersonic speeds, et cetera. But I just don't see the practicality in it," McInerney told Fox News. The Falcon HTV-2 is intended to travel at speeds of 13,000 mph or Mach 20 through the Earth’s atmosphere. Moving at these paces, it would take less than 12 minutes to fly from Los Angeles to New York. If DARPA ultimately considers this launch a failure, the agency will no longer participate in the program. It’ll likely be the responsibility of another military branch to continue the work of a real missile.
Holy Crap! Batman! The Bat Missile just went off Course and Blew Up the Moon!!!:O (said Robin) Guess were in for a "Dark Night":O (said Alfred) Batman, just Stared...
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