U.S. military scientists lost contact with a hypersonic glider nine minutes into its inaugural test flight last week, a defense research agency said on Tuesday. The unmanned Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) is designed to fly through the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of up to Mach 20, providing the U.S. military with a possible platform for striking targets anywhere on the planet with conventional weapons.
AFP reports that the HTV-2 was launched last week aboard a Minotaur IV rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, according to DARPA. The test flight called for a 30-minute mission in which the vehicle would glide at high speed before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, north of a U.S. military test site at the Kwajalein Atoll.
The glider separated from the booster but soon after the signal vanished, a spokeswoman said.