Whoops! DARPA loses hypersonic glider on its maiden voyage

Depending on how things went, this could have been an article detailing another one of DARPA's insane projects spreading its wings. Sadly, the maiden voyage of the agency's Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (or HTV-2) didn't go so smoothly.

The HTV-2 is a hypersonic glider, capable of traveling at speeds of over Mach 20. That's pretty damn fast, and maybe a little too fast, as nine minutes into its maiden voyage, whatever satellite or ground-based solution tracking the glider couldn't keep up and contact was lost.

The HTV-2 is designed to allow for "prompt global strike" options, or being able to deliver a payload of conventional weapons anywhere in the world in under an hour. It'd glide through the Earth's atmosphere, making it mighty hard to shoot down, and there's also the added benefit that other nations wouldn't mistake it for a nuclear missile.

Ideally, DARPA was looking for the autopilot test to see the HTV-2 through a series of maneuvers that would help it bleed off some energy while banking and turning, and then perform a controlled dive into the water. The agency will try again in 2011, when a second test is scheduled for the craft.

Via PopSci and PhysOrg