understood its latest test flight of the new hypersonic vehicle would cause an immense amount of pressure and
stress on the actual HTV-2. As such, there was still a large amount of
disappointment when it was discovered DARPA lost contact with the HTV-2 vehicle
The Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 successfully launched atop a Minotaur 4
rocket at 7:45 AM PST from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Active vehicle
testing is necessary because it provides better information than ground-based
testing that simply cannot mimic actual tests.
The test flight was going as planned until the HTV-2 was supposed to enter
glide phase, and that's when ground range technologies lost contact with the
aircraft. Ideally, the HTV-2 will one day be able to enter suborbital
space, re-enter Earth's atmosphere, and then glide while collecting data at
DARPA tweeted the following message: "Downrange assets did not
reacquire tracking or telemetry. #HTV2 has an autonomous flight termination
DARPA plans to try and release as much information as possible, but wants to
ensure it's accurate and an investigation already is underway.
Researchers one day want the aircraft to hit an impressive Mach 20 traveling from Los
Angeles to New York in a mere 12 minutes.
There was a significant amount of skepticism related to the DARPA effort, even
though the amount of time in the air may have helped them collect more
data. However, the vehicle is designed to soar through the upper atmosphere
before it splashed into the ocean about 4,000 miles from Vandenberg AFB.
DARPA previously launched an HTV-2 aircraft in April 2010 for a test flight,
but it took just nine minutes before it was intentionally crashed because of
significant technical failure. However, the test reportedly reached
speeds up to Mach 22 and communication/GPS was active despite the extremely
fast 3.6 miles per second speed.