US Military To Launch Fastest-Ever Plane - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Contact Lost: 'Hypersonic Glider' Capable Of 13,000 Mph Speeds

USATODAY.COM - Contact has been lost with a test "hypersonic" glider that could some day pave the way for ultra-high-speed flights.

In a story that's likely to catch the interest of many aviation enthusiasts, The Associated Press reports the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) "says in Twitter postings that its unmanned Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 (HTV-2) was launched Thursday atop a rocket, successfully separated from the booster and entered the mission's glide phase. The agency says telemetry was subsequently lost, but released no details."

The Los Angeles Times writes DARPA's "experimental, arrowhead-shaped aircraft that could reach blistering speeds of 13,000 mph … ."

Engadget.com says the HTV-2 craft used in today's "critical test flight" measures "just 12 feet in length" and "maxes out" at speeds "theoretically allowing it to jet from New York to Los Angeles in just 12 minutes and to reach anywhere in the world in less than an hour."

Cnet.com writes "the flight is the second for the test vehicle following its maiden flight in April 2010, during which nine minutes of flight data were gathered, including 139 seconds flying at Mach 17-22. Two-way communication and GPS signals were maintained while it flew at 3.6 miles per second."

However, that craft eventually was intentionally crash-landed "due to technical failures," according to Engadget.com.

Regardless of today's outcome, the test flight will be the last in the project unless new government funding is found, according to the Times.

Not surprisingly, the hypersonic effort has potential military implications. Space.com writes "the HTV-2 is part of a DARPA plan called Prompt Global Strike to develop advanced weapons systems with extreme range."

CNN notes "the launch, originally slated for Wednesday but then scrubbed because of weather, will not be broadcast live but the public can follow progress on the DARPA Twitter feed.

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