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US hypersonic plane test fails for second time

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Falcon HTV2. A DARPA photo

WASHINGTON (BNS): US defence agency DARPA lost contact with Falcon HTV2 before the vehicle could fulfill all of its mission objectives during a test flight over the Pacific on Thursday.

The Minotaur IV rocket successfully inserted the aircraft into the desired trajectory. Separation of the vehicle was confirmed by rocket cam and the aircraft transitioned to Mach 20 aerodynamic flight, DARPA said.

According to DARPA, more than nine minutes of data was collected before an anomaly caused loss of signal. The agency launched the hypersonic plane from Vandenberg air force base in California.

The unmanned Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2) can fly at 13,000 miles per hour and withstand temperatures in excess of 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The US Defence Advance Research Projects Agency has assembled a team of experts to analyze the flight data collected during Thursday’s test flight.

According to Air Force Maj. Chris Schulz, DARPA HTV-2 program manager three technical challenges exist within the HTV-2 flight regime – aero thermal, guidance, navigation and control. And each phase of flight introduces unique obstacles within these areas.

HTV-2 first test-flight in April of 2010 ended in failure when it crashed into the ocean just nine minutes after takeoff.

DARPA Director Regina Dugan said, “In the April 2010 test, we obtained four times the amount of data previously available at these speeds. Today more than 20 air, land, sea and space data collection systems were operational. We’ll learn. We’ll try again. That’s what it takes.”

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US  DARPA  Falcon HTV 2  
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