DARPA, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has lost contact with its experimental Falcon hypersonic glider during a flight test.
DARPA announced on Twitter (@DARPA_News) that it had “lost telemetry” with its Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2).
The U.S. military's hypersonic glider was launched Thursday from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard an Air Force Minotaur IV rocket, and has the capacity to glide at the far reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere at Mach 20, or 13,000 mph, making it the fastest plane ever.
The Falcon HTV-2 flies so fast that it could travel from New York to Los Angeles in just 12 minutes, CNET says.
DARPA tweeted the glider’s progress Thursday morning, first announcing the plane's successful separation from the Minotaur rocket before later breaking the news that “range assets have lost telemetry” with the HTV-2
DARPA said in a tweet that: “Downrange assets did not reacquire tracking or telemetry. HTV-2 has an autonomous flight termination capability. More to follow.”
This was the second of more than 20 planned tests aimed at advancing “critical technologies to make long-duration hypersonic flight a reality,” DARPA said, according to USA Today.
The first test in April 2010 lasted only nine minutes before contact was lost — possibly due to overheating — forcing operators to execute a "controlled descent into the ocean,” USA Today says.