Here are Top Speed, we typically like to talk about fast cars, but every once in a while there is something that is so fast, we can’t help ourselves. Our most recent finding is something that tops out at 17 times the speed of light: the Falcon HTV-2.
The Falcon HTV-2 is a hypersonic aircraft created by The Pentagon and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as part of a new generation of hypersonic weapons that can strike faster than missiles. During its first test, the HTV-2 took only nine minutes to fly into space and then back to Earth, traveling at 13,000 mph. Unfortunately, that test was deemed unsuccessful because the aircraft had to deliberately crash due to safety measures. Now, a second test has been scheduled to see if the aircraft can successfully take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard an Air Force Minotaur IV rocket and fly from New York to Los Angeles in less than 12 minutes. A normal air plane does this trip in more than five hours.
Full story and video after the jump.
The biggest problem is that DARPA is now reporting they have lost telemetry with HTV-2 and the downrange sensors haven’t found it, either. DARPA suggests that more than nine minutes of data was collected before an anomaly caused loss of signal. Initial thoughts are that the aircraft impacted the Pacific Ocean along the planned flight path.
"Here’s what we know," said Air Force Maj. Chris Schulz, DARPA HTV-2 program manager and PhD in aerospace engineering. "We know how to boost the aircraft to near space. We know how to insert the aircraft into atmospheric hypersonic flight. We do not yet know how to achieve the desired control during the aerodynamic phase of flight. It’s vexing; I’m confident there is a solution. We have to find it."