DARPA loses contact with aircraft traveling at Mach 20

Hopes for successful use of a hypersonic vehicle to aid the Defense Department's Prompt Global Strike plan were dimmed by a second unsuccessful test Aug. 11, Wired reports.

If the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's test had gone as planned, Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 would have separated from the rocket it was riding on when it reached the edge of space before hurtling through the atmosphere at 13,000 mph before touching down in the Pacific Ocean. The test was supposed to take 30 minutes.

But DARPA reported that it "lost telemetry" with the craft even before the halfway mark. But as Bloomberg Businessweek reported, the vehicle did reach about 20 times the speed of sound and collect more than nine minutes' worth of data before DARPA lost contact with it.

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