DARPA Hypersonic Glider: HTV-2 Aborts Flight Due to Peeled Aeroshell (Photo)

By on Apr 23, 2012 in Technology, United States, World Comments
Darpa Hypersonic Glider

DARPA Hypersonic Glider artist’s image
Image Credit: DARPA

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Hypersonic Glider flight over the Pacific Ocean was aborted due to a problem on its shell, according to reports by several international news sites on Saturday, April 21, 2012.

DARPA Hypersonic Glider is reportedly part of a research and development project of the US Department of Defense. The project aims to provide an extremely-fast global strike capability.

Reports say that the DARPA Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 (HTV-2) was launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California last August 11, 2011.

According to a report by US DARPA officials on Friday, April 20, the experimental hypersonic glider aborted its 13,000 mph flight over the Pacific Ocean because its shell peeled off.

The speed of the DARPA Hypersonic Glider reportedly reached up to Mach 20 or 20 times the speed of sound for three minutes before it was automatically aborted by its flight safety system.

A DARPA press release on Friday revealed that excessive aeroshell degradation led to the activation of the craft’s Flight Safety Systems and an eventual splashdown into the ocean itself.

According to DARPA, it was “Approximately nine minutes into the test flight, the vehicle experienced a series of shocks culminating in an anomaly, which prompted the autonomous flight safety system to use the vehicle’s aerodynamic systems to make a controlled descent and splashdown into the ocean.”

Kaigham J. Gabriel, DARPA Acting Director, explained that the “initial shockwave disturbances experienced during second flight, from which the vehicle was able to recover and continue controlled flight, exceeded by more than 100 times what the vehicle was designed to withstand.” Gabriel added that its “a major validation that we’re advancing our understanding of aerodynamic control for hypersonic flight.”

DARPA said that they will be improving the heat-stress allowances of the HTV-2′s outer shell and enhance their models for determining thermal uncertainties based on data collected from previous tests.

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