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The HTV-2 set a world record speed of Mach 20 and successfully executed some maneuvers before abruptly losing communication with home base. The mission is being ruled a partial success.  (Source: U.S. Air Force)

It likely never reached its destination, Kwajalein Atoll, an island in the Pacific northeast of Australia.  (Source: Space For Peace)
Craft is being designed to strike enemies in far away regions like the Middle East in under an hour

NASA's X-43A (Hyper-X) test vehicle currently holds the record for the fastest aircraft.  Back in November 2004, it achieved a speed close to Mach 10 (12,000km/hr or 7,000mph).  That's well into the hypersonic range, which starts at Mach 5.

For the Air Force and U.S. Armed Forces, it's highly desirable to develop hypersonic aircraft.  Such designs could offer strikes in under an hour from the U.S. to anywhere in the world.  Many in the armed forces view hypersonic strike-craft as a potentially game-changing weapon in the fight against terrorism.

On Tuesday the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) tested a new design, the HTV-2.  The HTV-2 is classified as a hypersonic glider.  To get it up to its extreme target speed of Mach 20, it is first launched to the edge of space aboard a Minotaur IV Lite solid fuel rocket.  

Once at the edge of space the craft detaches and screams down towards its target.  Its thin wedge-shaped body is designed to produce greater lift.  It is protected against the extreme heat  it will encounter by carbon-carbon material used in the body, the same material used in carbon brakes and Space Shuttle tiles.

On Tuesday the craft embarked on its first test flight, launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.  The craft was to fly across the Pacific Ocean before landing at its target, Kwajalein Atoll, a tiny island in a chain of islands northeast of Australia known as the Marshall Islands.  Kwajaleien is approximately 4,800 miles from VAFB.

Launching on its 30 minute journey everything seemed to be going perfectly.  The craft boosted to near-space, then detached successfully.  It hurtled towards Earth, performing the prescribed maneuvers as it went.  And according to DARPA spokeswoman Joanna Jones it "achieved controlled flight within the atmosphere at over Mach 20" -- a new world record.

Then at nine minutes, during the final stages of maneuvers disaster struck.  Something happened and the craft abruptly stopped responding to the Air Force.

That set back may spell trouble for the cash-strapped hypersonic test program.  The hypersonic strike-craft are currently competing with two other technologies.  One alternative is to repurpose ballistic missiles to carry non-nuclear payloads.  However, this runs the risk of nuclear nations mistaking the missile for a nuke and initiating a counter-strike.  

Another option is to use a modified cruise missile that can travel at Mach 5 or Mach 6.  This program, like the hypersonic glider, seems promising, but has been dealt a setback, with tests pushed back from December 2009 to May 2010.

Still, despite the setback the glider may be the best option, if DARPA can fine-tune its design. Dr. Mark Lewis, the former chief scientist of the Air Force, comments, "There’s always a concern that a conventional warhead on an ICBM might be confused with a nuclear device - what can you do to prove otherwise? With a high lift vehicle, your trajectory would be so different that no one would likely confuse it with something more sinister."

The HTV-2 is only the second major experimental aircraft to launch in the last two weeks.  Last week the X-37B unmanned space shuttle was launched by the Air Force into orbit on a super-secret mission.



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LAG !!
By Reclaimer77 on 4/29/2010 9:18:52 AM , Rating: 2
At Mach 20 it clearly started to outrun the signal from control and it started to lag and crash !!!

Ok I just made that up.. umm, I got nothing. Pretty cool on hitting Mach 20 though, holy crap!




RE: LAG !!
By xler8r on 4/29/2010 9:20:01 AM , Rating: 2
Lol, something like that would have automated systems, no?


RE: LAG !!
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/29/2010 9:39:18 AM , Rating: 5
Something like that would have an automated system? Yes, it will automatically go forward until it turns or hits something.. AKA crashes. :P

I think they should paint something on the front of this thing: WARNING: MOVE!, or SPEED KILLS, or If you can read this you are already dead, or Beep, Beep (with the head of the road runner... just some ideas.


RE: LAG !!
By Iaiken on 4/29/2010 10:58:35 AM , Rating: 5
Speed doesn't kill, it's stopping suddenly that gets ya. :D


RE: LAG !!
By futrtrubl on 4/29/2010 5:58:18 PM , Rating: 5
Not if you are the stopped thing it hits ;']


RE: LAG !!
By cheetah2k on 5/6/2010 9:29:06 PM , Rating: 2
"On tuesday, a Qantas 747 was downed by a unidentified flying object"

Reports in from the survivors... "some say it looked like a slice of pie, others report it was a North Korean flaming hot piece of kimchi"

lol


RE: LAG !!
By inperfectdarkness on 4/29/2010 9:37:12 AM , Rating: 3
just for reference:

mach 20 = 15345.38296349 mph.

that's roughly 205 times the "conventional speed limit" on USA roadways, 75mph. probably enough to warrant a ticket the size of bob nardelli's paycheck.

p.s.

can anyone calculate the amount of friction/drag per square inch that is created by traveling at this speed?


RE: LAG !!
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/29/2010 9:42:08 AM , Rating: 2
Good luck catching him... It can out run a Motorola - the police best weapon against speeders.


RE: LAG !!
By Motoman on 4/29/2010 9:54:55 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
can anyone calculate the amount of friction/drag per square inch that is created by traveling at this speed?


Not without knowing it's precise shape, at a minimum...which I'm guessing the military isn't going to disclose.


RE: LAG !!
By Yucker54 on 4/29/2010 10:14:40 AM , Rating: 2
Physics...not my strong suit heh.

This is kind of cool though. Guess my dream is no longer to drive a race car to go uber fast.

Think there will ever be a day technology like this will ever be commercialized just like public space expeditions are available now? Tens of years from now perhaps?


RE: LAG !!
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/29/2010 10:24:45 AM , Rating: 4
Many things the public uses comes from a military back ground. So in time yes... but how long, I do not know.


RE: LAG !!
By Yucker54 on 4/29/2010 10:25:26 AM , Rating: 2
Fair enough as you make a sound point.


RE: LAG !!
By Calin on 4/30/2010 5:59:00 AM , Rating: 2
Everything we invent is going to be used by the Army


RE: LAG !!
By Samus on 5/2/2010 3:07:06 AM , Rating: 2
Kryptonite condoms...just in case.


RE: LAG !!
By camylarde on 4/29/2010 11:47:27 AM , Rating: 2
So now your dream is to pilot this conventional missile? Lol. Kinda suicidal dream to me.


RE: LAG !!
By Camikazi on 4/29/2010 12:04:46 PM , Rating: 3
A dream is a dream, this just happens to be a REALLY fast but short dream :)


RE: LAG !!
By FITCamaro on 4/29/2010 9:55:35 PM , Rating: 1
Where two condoms and thats what she said.


RE: LAG !!
By shin0bi272 on 4/29/2010 10:40:56 AM , Rating: 3
did you calculate that with the speed of sound at ground level or did you allow for the lower speed at high altitudes due to lower air pressure?


RE: LAG !!
By Jellodyne on 4/29/2010 11:14:23 AM , Rating: 5
And where would it even FIND a coconut?!


RE: LAG !!
By omnicronx on 4/29/2010 11:15:47 AM , Rating: 2
Just doing the quick calculations based on around 760MPH @ sea level, 760 x 20 =15220 .. so yes, he probably calculated it based on sea level..

Not that you could do a valid comparison anyways as they don't mention how high the glider was when it achieved these speeds.. All we know is that is was 'within the atmosphere'.

That being said, you can probably assume it was in the upper atmosphere when it achieved these results, i.e if it were travelling at the same speed (in MPH) at sea level, it would not be travelling at Mach 20. (most likely in the Mach 18 range).. Still very impressive though...


RE: LAG !!
By BZDTemp on 4/29/2010 5:00:31 PM , Rating: 2
Actually your number is likely to be wrong!

Exactly what Mach is in mph depends on what fluid is involved and on the physical conditions. With what we normally call air (which is really a mix of different gasses) the 15345 mph you state is about right at sea level but at high altitude it is a bit off.

Since we don't know for sure if the craft crashed into the see at Mach 20 you may be right but more likely the Mach 20 is at extreme altitude. And since the "air" gets real thin at the edge of space Mach 20 will be a good deal less than at ground level.

Without more data the actual speed in mph is guesswork but it could 13000 mph or even less depending on altitude.


RE: LAG !!
By foolsgambit11 on 4/30/2010 10:21:29 AM , Rating: 2
We can be sure it's faster than 9600 mph, since the mission was planned as 4800 miles in 30 minutes.


RE: LAG !!
By jbwhite99 on 5/3/2010 11:02:18 AM , Rating: 2
We make our pizzas in Kansas, then attach them to one of these missiles, launch it, and you can have your pizza anywhere in the US within 30 minutes! Granted, they might to $10 million each, but your pizza will be hot and fresh!


RE: LAG !!
By grandpope on 5/6/2010 1:21:56 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, all you need to do is assemble the pizza, and the flight over will cook it for ya!


RE: LAG !!
By Iketh on 5/1/2010 12:03:59 AM , Rating: 2
Mach measurements taken by the aircraft itself will report lower Machs as the aircraft climbs higher even though the real speed of the craft relative to the ground is constant. Most likely, Mach 20 was reported as the actual ground speed of the craft based on GPS positioning, making the 15345 calculation correct.

The notion that the craft hit the sea at Mach 20 is rediculous. Mach 20 at sea level creates so much friction that stony asteroids (unless miles in diameter) explode before hitting earth.


RE: LAG !!
By BZDTemp on 5/1/2010 10:51:31 AM , Rating: 2
Your GPS theory could be correct but then you got the Mach numbers wrong with regards to what the aircraft would report since same speed in mph higher up means a higher mach number.

The mph at sea level needed for Mach 1 would mean aprox. Mach 1.16 at 34,000 feet and I am pretty sure they NASA reported the highest number else they would have given the speed as "speed over ground".

If we knew at what altitude the speed was measured and the atmospheric conditions we could get the speed over ground. We would of course also have to factor in the craft is doing a wider arch than it's virtual ground location, since at those speeds the earth is certainly not flat :-)

I would so like to see a full altitude and speed profile of this thing. Considering the amount of power the SR-71 had to use to maintain it's speed something gliding through the air must decelerate pretty fast.

Also I think the speed needed to go into low orbit is Mach 27 or so meaning this thing is not that far off (relatively speaking).


RE: LAG !!
By Calin on 4/30/2010 5:44:23 AM , Rating: 3
Mach at high altitude is slower than Mach at lower altitudes (sound speed decreases).
Even so, Mach 20 is very very fast


So...
By xler8r on 4/29/2010 9:19:22 AM , Rating: 2
Just from my perspective it seems asinine to have something that launches from your country to do something similar of a Space Based Weapon. With something reaching speeds of 20M, going up, and coming down, your just adding a step in the same process....




RE: So...
By inperfectdarkness on 4/29/2010 9:41:24 AM , Rating: 3
when you consider that the cost of putting 1 lbs into space is ~20,000 USD--you quickly come to understand why weaponization of space hasn't progressed beyond GPS and communications.

it's simply not cost effective to put weaponry we may or may not use up into space on a time-limited (or rather fuel-limited) basis and eventually threatening a crash-down laded with high explosives. cruise missiles and even ICBM's are more cost effective.


RE: So...
By shin0bi272 on 4/29/2010 10:44:31 AM , Rating: 5
I think youre missing the small fact that if it was a priority we would spare no expense, use any parliamentary tricks and lie to do it... look at the health care bill...


RE: So...
By Ammohunt on 4/29/2010 3:12:45 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder what the damage of a 1lb guided impactor would be if it were shielded to make through the atmosphere. Just a simple guided meteorite.


RE: So...
By inperfectdarkness on 4/29/2010 3:50:41 PM , Rating: 3
theoretically? yes, a 1lb warheard could create massive devastation. that's the principle behind a rail-gun. the problem is, mach 20 is vastly different from light-speed.

although there would be a shock-wave associated with a mach 20 (or even mach 50) it wouldn't be of sufficient force to deal the requisite amount of damage to hardened structures (read: cold-war bunkers).


RE: So...
By Ammohunt on 4/30/2010 3:28:57 PM , Rating: 2
But enough to take out an armored vehicle for sure. Space based buckshot.


RE: So...
By mindless1 on 4/30/2010 4:01:46 PM , Rating: 2
Warheard. Is that anything like lobbing a box full of baby bunnies at the target? ;)


RE: So...
By MrBlastman on 4/29/2010 9:51:57 AM , Rating: 4
We were working on something neat for a while, it was called "Star Wars," and has dwindled practically into the sunset. I think the biggest problem with the program is our enemies cried "No Fair!" and thus, as the way our "new progressive world" works, if it isn't fair for everyone then it just can't be.

I'd be thrilled if we tossed into orbit a satellite powered by its own fission plant capable of firing a mega laser down onto the earth to take out targets of opportunity. Unfortunately, I don't quite foresee this happening any time soon.

Did you ever see the 80's movie "Spies like Us?" They had a nifty weapon in that movie that was quite entertaining while still retaining an earth-based powerplant. Too bad the beam would spread out probably too much and diffract a portion of the energy away as it heads towards target. That and the mirror in orbit might melt.


RE: So...
By gamerk2 on 4/29/2010 10:17:15 AM , Rating: 3
Satallite weapons are too expensive, especially when you factor in how often they need to be repalced...

Hasn't anyone noticed their flashy GPS enabled devices taking longer to get a signal the past month or so? Thats because half the GPS network is down, and the replacement sattalites are behind schedule. Satallites don't exactly have the longest lifespan, making their use as weapons questionable at best. [Nevermind that all you need to do is nick one to cause significant damange; China already has an anti-sattalite weapon, and several other countries are at least capable of reaching orbital alltitude).

Nevermind that if we do it, so would someone else, and instead of fearing nukes (and having maybe 30 minutes to get to cover), we instead need to fear instant vaporization. No thank you.

As for "star wars", the main issue with lazers at this point is keeping a lazer focused on a single point long enough to heat it up and cuase catestrophic failure. This is not easy to accomplish, especially when you need to factor in all sorts of refractions of light, etc. Nevermind the sheer size of the units themselves...


RE: So...
By ekv on 4/29/2010 4:15:53 PM , Rating: 4
A couple points. First, you may want to use onelook.com [very good dictionary service].

Satellite weapons are verboten by international treaty.

GPS replacements not being put into orbit is somewhat hampered by not having a viable Shuttle replacement. Gee, you'd think we could make a replacement, no?

China does have an anti-sat weapon. Their progress in the Space race has surprised our analysts, though the typical response is that China's Army is kind of a joke and so much for the rest of their military. Their progress comes in part from industrial espionage, at which they are the world's best.

As for fearing "instant vaporization. No Thank you." Just because we don't build it doesn't mean they won't. For example, how are we going to get our people to the ISS? Via Russia? Just because we're retiring the Shuttle doesn't mean everybody is going to shut down their space launches. Capiche?

I'd much prefer to be on the leading edge of the technology. Cause if you're on the receiving end that's tantamount to a day late and a dollar short.

As for lasers ...

http://www.dailytech.com/US+Air+Forces+Laser+Air+A...

http://www.dailytech.com/Laser+Gunship+Inches+Clos...

for starters.


RE: So...
By delphinus100 on 4/30/2010 3:28:44 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
We were working on something neat for a while, it was called "Star Wars,"


Actually, only the public called it that. Neither the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) nor George Lucas cared much for that, but there was little that either could do about it but grit their teeth...


RE: So...
By maven81 on 4/30/2010 10:47:51 PM , Rating: 2
"I think the biggest problem with the program is our enemies cried "No Fair!" and thus, as the way our "new progressive world" works, if it isn't fair for everyone then it just can't be."

Actually the soviets came closer to fielding actual space weapons. They were developing a space based laser before that program got cancelled. Hell they went so far as to put a canon on one of their early space stations. A space arms race is not necessarily a good idea, and I'm glad all the parties involved realized that.


Fly Over
By btc909 on 4/29/2010 10:40:12 AM , Rating: 4
At Mach 20 just fly over your desired target, you don't even need weapons. Nothing on the ground would survive the wake behind the aircraft.




RE: Fly Over
By camylarde on 4/29/2010 11:58:37 AM , Rating: 3
and since it is a glider and going at supersonic speeds, it would arrive SILENTLY

(LOL)


RE: Fly Over
By mmp121 on 4/29/2010 12:29:25 PM , Rating: 3
Silent or not, it is going faster than sound (20 x). If you hear it you should be dead.


RE: Fly Over
By softbatch on 4/29/2010 1:53:52 PM , Rating: 5
Actually if you hear it you would still be alive. If you don't hear it you're never going to hear anything again.


RE: Fly Over
By lightfoot on 4/29/2010 12:31:49 PM , Rating: 2
For objects travelling at these kinds of speeds it doesn't matter if it has an engine or not. The pressure wave created by the aircraft is what causes the sonic boom. It could well shatter windows, but the damage caused by only a fly over would not be of any military value. It would not be silent. You just wouldn't hear the sonic boom until after the aircraft had already passed.


RE: Fly Over
By JediJeb on 4/29/2010 3:16:16 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't they show on Mythbusters that the damage for a sonic boom really wasn't that great. Even when they got a fighter jet to fly at a few hundred feet above their test platform, they barely managed to break glass.


RE: Fly Over
By Reclaimer77 on 4/29/2010 3:41:44 PM , Rating: 1
Sure, but that was Mach 1. Mach 20 or so ?? Well, let's just say I wouldn't want to be anywhere near that.


RE: Fly Over
By BZDTemp on 4/29/2010 9:39:03 PM , Rating: 2
I think you overestimate the forces involved.

Sure that visible shock wave from jets at Mach 1 looks awesome it is not like forces grow exponential or anything plus the size of the vehicle also matters.


RE: Fly Over
By Reclaimer77 on 4/30/2010 9:06:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I think you overestimate the forces involved.


No I just prefer to avoid permanent hearing damage if at all possible :)


RE: Fly Over
By ZachDontScare on 4/29/2010 2:39:38 PM , Rating: 2
Heck, forget flying over, just crash the damn thing into the target! Give it enough umph, and you got yourself a nice simulation of a meteor impact.


RE: Fly Over
By ekv on 4/29/2010 3:51:58 PM , Rating: 3
good idea!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exoatmospheric_Kill_V...

quote:
Speed of projectile: roughly 10 km/s (22,000 mph)

Could decry the defunding of the EKV (etc.) by the current administration.... However, I'll simply point out that the technology exists here and now and the targeting/vectoring software appears to work quite well.


RE: Fly Over
By delphinus100 on 4/30/2010 3:23:28 AM , Rating: 2
Mach 20 in the dense lower atmosphere would pretty well toast you, anyway...

But it would be very interesting until then, yes.


Cost effectiveness?
By Iaiken on 4/29/2010 9:39:31 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
To get it up to its extreme target speed of Mach 20, it is first launched to the edge of space aboard a Minotaur IV Lite solid fuel rocket.


As far as I could find, these rockets are 12.500 million a pop and that is a hell of a lot to pay for expediency of payload.

Even if they intend to use this hypersonic beast, they are surely going to need a much more cost effective lift vehicle.




RE: Cost effectiveness?
By xler8r on 4/29/2010 9:55:22 AM , Rating: 2
I concur. It would make a lot of sense if they integrated that air breathing delivery system I keep seeing pop up in the AvWeeks instead of the still expensive ELV's.


RE: Cost effectiveness?
By lightfoot on 4/29/2010 12:25:45 PM , Rating: 2
When did cost effectiveness ever apply to scientific experiments and experimental aircraft? It isn't like this thing is going to go into mass production next week. This is just one of many stepping stones used to test designs and collect data points.


RE: Cost effectiveness?
By Solandri on 4/29/2010 2:44:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
As far as I could find, these rockets are 12.500 million a pop and that is a hell of a lot to pay for expediency of payload.

Even if they intend to use this hypersonic beast, they are surely going to need a much more cost effective lift vehicle.

The Wiki article says it's supposed to have a 5500 kg payload.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DARPA_Falcon_Project

Current launch vehicle costs for LEO are about $4000-$5000 per kg at the low end, which works out to $22 million for a 5500 kg payload. This is suborbital (barely) so you would expect the price to be lower. All in all, the price point looks to be about where you would expect it. The savings will be in the craft being reusable.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_elevator_econom...


RE: Cost effectiveness?
By ekv on 4/29/10, Rating: 0
Ouch
By Skraeling on 4/29/2010 10:49:47 AM , Rating: 2
Wonder if this sets the record for highest speed crash?




RE: Ouch
By freeagle on 4/29/2010 11:58:05 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, but I'm kind of puzzled by the logic behind your question :) How could it not be the highest speed crash if it has highest speed record?


RE: Ouch
By lightfoot on 4/29/2010 12:21:02 PM , Rating: 2
Just because the craft achieved the highest speed at some point during its flight does not mean that it was travelling at that speed at the moment of impact.

For all we know it may have fallen to the ground completely unpowered and as slowly as its terminal velocity would permit. Because we lost contact with it in flight we may never know how fast it was going when it crashed. Only by analyzing the wreckage could a guess be made as to its exact speed at impact.


How is this a record?
By TheCastle on 4/29/2010 1:03:32 PM , Rating: 4
IF HTV-2 is a glider, and it achieves a sub-orbital velocity of only mach 20, how is this a record. The space shuttle is a glider too, and to achieve orbital velocity it has to be accelerated to ~17,500mph (depending on the desired orbit) or roughly mach 24. It can return to earth in excess of 18,000mph or mach 25. The space shuttle routinely achieves in excess of mach 20 so again how is this glider a record holder? Oh yeah and the space shuttle has achieved this speeds safely (except for one re-entry failure) for almost 30 years. HTV-2 while cool isn't a record setter. NASA has been doing this for decades.




Concerns
By eddieroolz on 4/29/2010 5:17:51 PM , Rating: 2
Glad to see that this test craft actually works. However the part about the crash concerns me:

If the USAF doesn't know where it crashed, or why, then that means the craft is either floating at sea, or landed somewhere on land. That's an expensive, cutting-edge craft just waiting for someone to grab it - and if a power hostile to the US got hold of it, then there will be some real problem.

That's what I'm concerned about.




RE: Concerns
By delphinus100 on 4/30/2010 3:41:43 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If the USAF doesn't know where it crashed, or why, then that means the craft is either floating at sea, or landed somewhere on land.


As it was to have been allowed to drop unrecovered into the sea in any case (and is not the first experimental hypersonic test article intended to do so *), don't assume it to be buoyant, or in this uncertain case, even in one piece...

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_X-43#Testing


Hypersonic Missile
By droplets on 4/29/2010 7:44:50 PM , Rating: 2
Some people seem to be confused that the purpose of this 'glider' is as a weapon... Think of this thing as a bullet. The more you load into the case the more stopping (crater) power you get.

They've been working on this concept for while...they had a ramjet powered one on the cover of pop sci or mechanics a few years ago. Might be a good reference to calculate drag.




RE: Hypersonic Missile
By droplets on 4/29/2010 7:55:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The more you load into the case


I was referring to the glider as the case, not the bullet. I guess you could call this thing a green warhead, depending on what you put in there.

I also wonder how deep you could get some sort of titanium or steel tip into the ground at mach 20.


Corrected
By Shadowself on 4/29/2010 9:32:04 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The craft was to fly across the Pacific Ocean before landing at its target, Kwajalein Atoll, a tiny island in a chain of islands northeast of Australia known as the Marshall Islands.


Replace with:
The craft was to fly across the Pacific Ocean before crashing into the lagoon at its target, Kwajalein Atoll, a tiny island in a chain of islands northeast of Australia known as the Marshall Islands.

.

Now it's accurate. It was never supposed to "land", i.e., anything other than crash. It just didn't "crash" where they intended.

Many, many test flights from the western test range (in California) land their packages in that lagoon. It is a common place from which divers then retrieve "black boxes" or what's left so that the military can analyze the remnants.




ICBM versus Mach 20 Glider
By Nurn on 4/29/2010 1:05:03 PM , Rating: 2
Dr. Mark Lewis, the former chief scientist of the Air Force, comments, "There’s always a concern that a conventional warhead on an ICBM might be confused with a nuclear device - what can you do to prove otherwise? With a high lift vehicle, your trajectory would be so different that no one would likely confuse it with something more sinister."

More sinister? Like maybe a nuclear warhead "gliding" towards you at Mach 20?




Prompt Global Strike
By Spacecomber on 4/29/2010 2:40:10 PM , Rating: 2
This article hints at but doesn't really draw out how this testing is part of an effort to come up with a conventional replacement to nuclear weapons. The program is referred to as Prompt Global Strike, and it was first covered by Daily Tech in December 2006. A link in the present article takes you to this earlier article, http://www.dailytech.com/The+Pentagon+Has+its+Eyes... , which in turn was prompted by an article in Popular Mechanics, http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/militar... . The NYT recently provided some coverage on this plan, as well, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/23/world/europe/23s... .




Wait
By Adonlude on 4/29/2010 2:52:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
One alternative is to repurpose ballistic missiles to carry non-nuclear payloads. However, this runs the risk of nuclear nations mistaking the missile for a nuke and initiating a counter-strike.

So, wait, but everythings cool if we send a mach 20 bomb their way? Why would they assume it isn't nuclear?




Hope it works!
By wiz220 on 4/29/2010 4:26:16 PM , Rating: 2
I really hope this concept doesn't get scrapped. It seems like a great idea because right now we use billion dollar bombers to do precision strikes half way around the world. This seems like (once perfected) it could be FAR more cost efficient, no huge fuel consumption for a round trip bomber flight, small, and you could conceivably launch hundreds for less than the cost of a B2 bomber.




We be edumacated!
By consumerwhore on 4/29/2010 5:53:09 PM , Rating: 2
Speaking the same language helps discussion; from dictionary.com:

Subsonic : noting or pertaining to a speed less than that of sound in air at the same height above sea level.

Transonic : close to the speed of propagation of sound; moving at 700–780 mph (1127–1255 km/h) at sea level.

Supersonic : greater than the speed of sound waves through air.

Hypersonic : noting or pertaining to speed that is at least five times that of sound in the same medium.




Just to clarify.
By symbiosys on 4/29/2010 7:03:51 PM , Rating: 2
So I'm just nit-picking however wouldn't that 30 minute launch into space plus the one hour trip equal an hour and a half to any place on the globe, or does that hour include launch time?

Because thats pretty darn cool!




Couldn`t the glider carry a nuke?
By Phoque on 4/29/2010 7:04:04 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure I understand the point about using an ICBM that could be mistaken for a nuke in relation to the glider.

I mean, unless it is impossible to load a nuke on that glider, why should other nation catching this thing on their radar not mistake it for a nuke threat?




Weapon
By monkeyman1140 on 4/30/2010 1:08:56 AM , Rating: 2
Nice weapon concept, but no substitute for bad foreign policy.




Speed of sound, etc.
By dougdaniel on 4/30/2010 3:15:00 AM , Rating: 2
Just to stir the pot, let me point out that air at sea level is an ideal gas to about 6 decimal points. At lower pressures, it is even more of an ideal gas.

The speed of sound in an ideal gas is ONLY dependent on temperature, not pressure, humidity, and the other factors that many 'experts' assert.

The expression 'speed of sound at sea-level' is both popular and meaningless. In aviation, the temperature at sea level on a standard day is 15C. 'The speed of sound at 15C' means something. When you are in an airliner and the outside air temperature is -50C, the speed of sound (i.e., Mach 1.0) is much lower than when you took off and the air was 15C or 25C.

While I am at it, no glider is going to be at Mach 20 when it arrives at sea level if it were released at extremely high altitudes at only Mach 20. Too much energy is needed to create its shock waves for it to have a terminal velocity of Mach 20, even if it were a needle made of Pu (density of 19.77 gm/cc) and could never be melted.

Heh, heh ...




"There’s always a concern...
By mmatis on 4/30/2010 1:54:33 PM , Rating: 2
that a conventional warhead on an ICBM might be confused with a nuclear device - what can you do to prove otherwise?" is asked by "Dr. Mark Lewis". Does he REALLY believe that an attack on a nuclear-capable state IS NOT going to be met with nuclear retaliation, irregardless of whether the initial attack was nuclear or not? Or is he trotting out the canard that the nuclear-capable states are not able to determine whether the trajectory will carry the vehicle into their territory? Either way, it is EXTREMELY worrying that clowns like the illustrious Doctor are in any way associated with our defense capabilities.




In other news,
By FoxFour on 4/30/2010 7:58:06 PM , Rating: 2
The US military is suddenly alarmed about an alleged Chinese surface-to-air missile system that may be capable of shooting down hypersonic aircraft.

Our sources can't confirm the origin of this rumor.




what do we need it for?
By rvd2008 on 4/29/10, Rating: -1
RE: what do we need it for?
By OnyxNite on 4/29/2010 1:01:30 PM , Rating: 2
Did you not read the article? Because we want to deliver conventional (i.e. non-nuclear) payloads without starting a nuclear exchange. Imagine we want to hit a target in Afghanistan. We load a conventional warhead on an ICBM and launch it. Russia detects an ICBM launch coming from the U.S. do you think they're just going to believe us when we tell them it's not a nuke and we're not shooting it at them?


RE: what do we need it for?
By rvd2008 on 4/29/2010 1:14:37 PM , Rating: 2
and why would they believe this hyper-garbage carries conventional warhead and not a nuke?
waste of time and money


RE: what do we need it for?
By softbatch on 4/29/2010 2:00:29 PM , Rating: 2
Because it would not be flying on a ballistic trajectory.

Also 15 million per shot is going to be a small price to pay for being able to get a bomb anywhere in the world in less than an hour.


RE: what do we need it for?
By lightfoot on 4/29/2010 2:21:19 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, there is nothing inherent in this technology that would prevent the weapon from being nuclear armed.

Just because it is flying a non-ballistic trajectory does not mean that it is conventional.

However unlike you, I don't think hypersonic research and development is a waste of time or "garbage" technology.


RE: what do we need it for?
By Steele on 4/29/2010 4:52:05 PM , Rating: 2
Why did he get rated down? He raised a perfectly valid point.

An ICBM usually carries a nuclear warhead (or several). Why couldn't those warheads be replaced with guided conventional weapons?

Who's to say that the HTV couldn't be carrying a nuclear warhead?

In any event, it seems to me that the Russians would be unlikely to assume the worst about an INDIVIDIAL MISSILE LAUNCH! If we're going to nuke Russia and start WW3, we're going all in! Not with one or two bombs at a time. They know this.


RE: what do we need it for?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/29/2010 6:03:44 PM , Rating: 2
And we wouldn't use ICBM's either. Too much advanced warning. We would park missile subs right off your damn coast and, to borrow from Red October, 'shower the target with multiple independent warheads with little to no warning'.

And there isn't a damn thing they can do about it.


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