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[UPDATE] DARPA’s Falcon HTV-2 Breaks All Records with Speeds of Mach 20
By Christopher Weaver

falcon htv-2

If it’s speed you’re looking for, look no further. The Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (Falcon HTV-2) is undergoing a second test flight today that will achieve Mach 20 speeds (13,000 mph). Launching out of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California atop a three-stage Minotaur IV Lite rocket, this unmanned craft is bound on a 4,100 mile flight that will last a mere 30 minutes before crashing down into the water. The DARPA scientists behind this test are holding their breath — the first test flight went well for 9 minutes before contact was lost and the vehicle was never recovered.

The reason for FALCON’s development is defense oriented. The US government wants the ability to launch a military strike anywhere on the planet within 1 to 2 hours, this would make that possible considering it can fly 4.2 miles per second.

This craft is breaking the old records wide open. Previously the fastest unmanned aircraft was NASA’s X-43A scramjet, a one time use jet that falls to the ground once used, which achieved speeds of Mach 9.8. The fastest manned aircraft has been the same since 1971 — the SR-71 Blackbird is capable of speeds up to Mach 3.2.

This goes to show that science never sleeps, old records are meant to be broken, and that war generates innovation — all things that DARPA never forgets. Stay tuned for updates, if this launch goes sour today the project may be scrapped forever.

Of course we couldn’t let you leave without seeing this thing fly — this video is from the first test launch of the Falcon HTV-2 (before it was lost).

UPDATE
After the expected launch yesterday was scrubbed due to inclement weather conditions, the second launch occurred today at around 7:45 AM, PST. After a 9 minute flight, communication was lost with the craft — all the details can be found here.

Via:All Things D


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