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The Military Science Technology

DARPA Set To Blast Falcon Mach 20 Test Flight 201

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the are-we-there-yet dept.
coondoggie writes "The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is taking to the sky again, this time to run what it says will be the second and final test of its hypersonic Falcon aircraft, which is capable of hitting speeds up to Mach 20, or about 13,000MPH. The Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 is scheduled to launch Wednesday between 7:00am — 1:00 pm PDT from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., aboard an Air Force Minotaur IV rocket. The rocket delivers the Falcon to a starting point high in the atmosphere, where its engine ignite, and, if all goes well, it will blast through the air for about a half hour, DARPA says."
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DARPA Set To Blast Falcon Mach 20 Test Flight

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  • by SirWhoopass (108232) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @12:25PM (#37034680)

    Why DARPA and not NASA?

    DARPA has money. NASA does not.

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @12:43PM (#37034930) Journal

    It's an unpowered lifting body, no engines, so it basically glides (at a very high speed!) and is capable of surviving re-entry.

    It looks like it's a weapons delivery system capable of avoiding terminal ballistic missile defenses. A MARV (MAneuverable Reentry Vehicle).

    I thought we (the U.S.) were the only ones with a (semi)-robust missile defense system (well I guess the Isrealis also). I guess DARPA's just planning ahead for the day when the Chinese decide to redress the strategic balance by spending their Trillions on a good BMD. Also I'm thinking it must be so expensive that the only kind of warhead that's worth placing on board is nuclear. But then again maybe there are VERY specific soft targets which you absolutely positively have to kill in an hour (because that's all you know they'll be in that location for). Then a "conventional" warhead could do (or at 13,000MPH just a bunch of tungsten rods "Rods from God" would do. Think of it as an intercontinental sniper rifle with bullets that can swerve around defenses. Good for "decapitating" an enemy, (I guess a lot of threats we face would go away if we could take out just the top few people/person: are you listening Kim Jong-Il? Qaddafi? S&P ratings board?).

    I was kinda hoping DARPA was working on a (much) faster version of the Wave-rider hypersonic aircraft. Oh well, guess even they can't beat the laws of physics (and our lack of a good propulsion system).

    Even "cooler" would be a laser that could be quickly lofted into space and would zap a target on the earth below. Unfortunately, "Real Genius" notwithstanding we don't have any lasers compact enough to be launched in anything short of a Saturn V (I don't think Dr. Teller's nuke pumped X-Ray laser was ever shown to work). That pesky outer space treaty prohibits us from placing weapons in space so we can't just have laser satellites floating around picking off people we don't like I guess.

  • Re:13,000mph? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Artifakt (700173) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @01:09PM (#37035266)

    Mach 1 is normally measured as at sea level, because it is based on the average temperature of air molecules at that same level. When you go high enough, temperature gets significant, as the hotter molecules tend to rise to the top. Speed of sound generally increases with altitude. Pitot tubes and such work with what air they have to measure Mach, and at least until modern computing, that raw data is ALL they gave a pilot, so what they report is normally 'distorted' by both local temperature and by wind-speed. Originally, a Mach meter didn't know how high a plane was at all, and instead reported speed in knots per hour, with a mark on the analog gauge that really only meant, "if you were at sea level, you'd definitely be above the speed of sound now, but what you actually see outside the window may vary", Now-a-days, fancy little boxes in the avionics systems may give a pilot or remote operator adjusted Mach values. A pilot doesn't usually want to know Mach, rather he or she would prefer a few seconds warning when they are about to pass into supersonic and hypersonic regions under local conditions.

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