There were high expectations for DARPA's latest HTV-2 test flight, but the project seemingly has failed yet again

DARPA 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 this morning. 

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 fast speeds.

DARPA tweeted the following message:  "Downrange assets did not reacquire tracking or telemetry. #HTV2 has an autonomous flight termination capability." 

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.

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