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DARPA Set To Blast Falcon Mach 20 Test Flight 201

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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  • Re:13,000mph? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mhajicek ( 1582795 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @02:55PM (#37035710)
    A dumb kinetic projectile would have a low chance of striking the target, especially if the satellite has avoidance. A high velocity release in the right general direction would be handy, but the ordinance should be able to steer, and it would be best if it also accelerates to diminish avoidance effectiveness and detonates in front of the target to spray the target with many kinetic projectiles.
  • by cavreader ( 1903280 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @03:00PM (#37035788)
    The major country nuclear arsenals are pretty much useless in any strategic sense because one ICBM launch will trigger thousands going in all directions leaving nothing left to argue about. The only real purpose they serve is preventing this type of total global annihilation. Orbital based kinetic weapons are the next phase of weapon development. Non-explosive projectiles targeted from orbit are capable of the same amount of destruction as a nuke without the nasty radioactive after taste. Accuracy might not be as good as modern GPS based missiles but then again it isn't necessary to hit a specific chimney or window with a weapon of this power.
  • by mj1856 ( 589031 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @04:26PM (#37036808)
    Holy crap - you mean Disney got it right?
    Flight of the Navigator spaceship []
    Darpa Falcon []
  • by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @05:00PM (#37037206) Homepage Journal

    It doesn't need to fly low. It can basically cross half the globe in a little over an hour. Even with a long-lead tracking system, your air defense with its range of perhaps 200km has a span of about 55 seconds in which to intercept it, which in the scheme of things makes it very difficult. It's not going to be maneuverable, but you have to have both timing to intercept and timing to explode before the inbound arrives so that you catch it in the blast. Alternately, you can try a direct intercept, but that's even more difficult.

  • Re:13,000mph? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @05:24PM (#37037504) Journal

    Speed of sound generally increases with altitude.

    It generally decreases. That is why airliners fly under autopilot in what is known as the coffin corner. It's the corner of the space where they are flying only just below the speed needed to maintain lift and flying only just below the transonic regime where they become unstable.

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