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US Air Force launches hypersonic glider vehicle

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The first Minotaur IV Lite launch vehicle, carrying the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2, blasts off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on April 22, 2010, A USAF photo

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE (BNS): A Minotaur IV Lite rocket carrying an unmanned hypersonic glider air vehicle blasted off from the US’ Vandenberg Air Force Base in California last week.

The rocket carried the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2, the US Air Force said.

While the launch vehicle successfully delivered the Falcon HTV-2 glide vehicle to the desired separation conditions, telemetry assets experienced a loss of signal from the HTV-2 approximately nine minutes into the mission, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is working on the project in partnership with USAF, said.

An engineering team is reviewing available data to understand this event, DARPA said in a statement.

The launch on April 22, 2010 was the first test launch of the ambitious Falcon HTV-2 project.

The programme aims at developing an unmanned, rocket launched, maneuverable hypersonic air vehicle that will glide through Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of Mach 20 and above.

The vehicle will feature high lift-to-drag aerodynamic shape, advanced lightweight, autonomous hypersonic navigation guidance and control systems and an autonomous flight safety system.

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