There’s a new arms race brewing, and this one is destined to be very, very fast. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin is calling for the development of a hypersonic long-range bomber to ensure Russia is not “falling behind the Americans.” He doesn’t want some subsonic or even supersonic analog to the American B-2, he says. Russia’s next bomber--slated for delivery by decade’s end--will move faster than Mach 5.
After roughly eight months of crunching the data, DARPA has released its official report on exactly what happened to its Falcon Hypersonic Test Vehicle 2 (HTV-2), the Mach 20 test vehicle it launched into the atmosphere last summer only to lose contact with it nine minutes later. The conclusion: HTV-2 was moving so blisteringly fast that it tore right out of its own skin.
Back on August 11th DARPA launched, then lost, its Falcon hypersonic vehicle, also known as HTV-2. Today we found it. Not the actual glider, but a video of it streaking through the sky over the Pacific Ocean as captured by a crew member aboard a tracking ship. And as you can see in this video, it is indeed moving fast.
Last week, DARPA’s HTV-2 (Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2) Falcon vehicle launched to near-orbital speeds aboard a Minotaur rocket before beginning what was designed to be a Mach 20 glide back to earth, demonstrating the kind of hypersonic capability needed to deliver a payload anywhere in the world in an hour. Then, a few minutes into its flight, HTV-2’s data transmitters went silent and so did the DARPA news stream feeding us the play-by-play.
Update: DARPA has gone silent regarding HTV-2, but its safe to assume at this point that contact with the hypersonic Falcon vehicle was lost before it fulfilled all of its mission objectives. No word yet on just how much data was collected or how many objectives were completed. More as this develops.
DARPA's hypersonic glider, which launched last Thursday, evidently failed at some point during its mach-20 maneuvers. The vehicle's signal was lost just nine minutes into the mission, according to the Santa Maria Times.
Future space marines might commemorate yesterday as a historic moment, based on the coinciding launches of DARPA's hypersonic glider and an Air Force space plane. Both test vehicles could pave the way for new warfighter transports or weapons systems, the Ares Defense Blog reports.