Disappeared at sea. Army loses contact with hypersonic test plane – CNN Security Clearance

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By Adam Levine

Military researchers in the flight of the fastest unmanned aircraft ever launched said Thursday that an “anomaly” caused the vehicle to lose contact nine minutes after the start of its flight. The plane crashed in the Pacific at some point along the planned flight path, according to a statement from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), which carried out the test.

The Falcon Hypersonic Test Vehicle (HTV-2) had successfully separated from the launcher and was performing “glide phase” maneuvers intended to test its aerodynamics when contact was lost, according to a DARPA Twitter post at 11 a.m. HEY). A tweet, at 12:30 p.m., said downstream trackers were unable to move the HTV2, but the vehicle “has autonomous flight termination capability.”

The vehicle was launched by a Minotaur IV rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, before separating and re-entering the atmosphere over the Pacific. The launch, originally scheduled for Wednesday but later canceled due to weather, was not broadcast live.

This was the second round of the machine. In April 2010, the plane crashed in the Pacific after losing contact nine minutes after the start of the flight. But those nine minutes provided key insights into flying 22 times faster than a commercial airliner.

Thursday’s flight was aimed at testing control and communication abilities, as well as resistance to heat and other effects of hypersonic flight. The nine minutes of data demonstrated that the aircraft’s launch was under control but continued to be stuck in control of the vehicle at Mach 20.

“We don’t yet know how to get the desired control during the aerodynamic phase of flight. It’s annoying; I’m sure there is a solution. We have to find it,” said Air Force Major Chris Schulz. , responsible for the DARPA program. .

DARPA’s goal is to create the ability to hit any target in the world in less than an hour.

The triangular zoom corner is capable of reaching Mach 20 – around 13,000 miles per hour – according to DARPA. At such speeds in Earth’s atmosphere, friction subjects the vehicle to temperatures in excess of 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

As DARPA said on the HTV-2 site, at this speed “the air is not flowing around you – you are tearing it apart”.

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