The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has conducted field tests of an aircraft vehicle that can fly up to twenty times the speed of sound for nearly three minutes, the agency announced Friday.
The Pentagon’s research arm conducted the second flight test of its hypersonic technology vehicle on Aug. 11 2011.
The aircraft successfully flew up to Mach 20, but experienced a serious anomaly nine minutes into the flight.
DARPA said an independent engineering review board investigated the aircraft’s anomaly and found it was caused by a series of shocks during its flight.
The shocks prompted the autonomous system to enact a controlled descent into the ocean, DARPA said.
Acting Director Ken Gabriel said the vehicle recovered and continued on a controlled flight, exceeding 100 times what the vehicle was designed to withstand.
The HTV-2 flight 2 premature flight termination was most likely a result of aeroshell degradation, which activated the flight safety system.
The vehicle traveled nearly 13,000 miles per hour and the vehicle’s skin wore away during that time.
Air Force Maj. Chris Schulz, a DARPA program manager, said the second flight revealed knowledge about thermal-protective material properties.
Government and acedemic experts analyzed the flight data and concluded DAPRA should focus on advancing aerothermal structures for future hypersonic vehicles, he said.
The agency said the HVT-2 program will incorporate knowledge gained to improve outer shell models for developing vehicles capable of flying anywhere in the world in less than an hour.
The agency is additionally set to hold a robotics competition in order to expand robotics applications for disaster recovery.