Military's Hypersonic Aircraft Goes Really Fast, Gets Lost

An unmanned aircraft engineered to go 20 times the speed of sound was lost on its second test flight Thursday. The BBC reports that scientists lost track of the Falcon Hypersonic Test Vehicle 2, or HTV-2, shortly after it detached from a rocket high above the California coast. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, published a press release saying that the "aircraft impacted the Pacific Ocean along the planned flight path."

The spear-shaped HTV-2 is, according to DARPA, "the fastest aircraft ever built." It is designed to travel at 13,000 mph and fly to anywhere in the world in under an hour. The only problem is that it's a real Mother to fly. HTV-2 program manager Air Force Maj. Chris Schulz said, "Here's what we know. We know how to boost the aircraft to near space. We know how to insert the aircraft into atmospheric hypersonic flight. We do not yet know how to achieve the desired control during the aerodynamic phase of flight. It's vexing; I'm confident there is a solution. We have to find it."

Still, the HTV-2 collected valuable data before it lost contact with earthbound scientists. This information will be reviewed by an independent panel to determine what the future has in store for this aircraft and whether or not we'll be able to order pizza from Italy in under an hour.

US military loses contact with hypersonic aircraft [BBC]

[@nickgreene]


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