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DARPA Hypersonic Vehicle Splash Down Confirmed 140

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the you-win-this-time-robotnik dept.
dtmos writes "DARPA has announced that its Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 flight on Thursday, 11 August, 'experienced a flight anomaly post perigee and into the vehicle's climb. The anomaly prompted the vehicle's autonomous flight safety system to use the craft's aerodynamic systems to make a controlled descent and splash down into the ocean.' 'According to a preliminary review of the data collected prior to the anomaly encountered by the HTV-2 during its second test flight,' said DARPA Director Regina Dugan, 'HTV-2 demonstrated stable aerodynamically controlled Mach 20 hypersonic flight for approximately three minutes. It appears that the engineering changes put into place following the vehicle's first flight test in April 2010 were effective. We do not yet know the cause of the anomaly for Flight 2.'"
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DARPA Hypersonic Vehicle Splash Down Confirmed

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  • by overshoot (39700) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @08:08PM (#37136670)
    It detected something out on one wing.
    • Its the Geese. They're still pissed over Flight 1549.

    • It detected something out on one wing.

      I don't know if it's funny or sad that, after reading your post, I first thought of the Futurama spoof rather than the Twilight Zone episode.

      "There's something out on the wing! You've got to believe me!"

      "Why should we believe you? You're Hitler!"

    • OK - Physics lesson... Q: What happens at Mach 20+ during re-entry? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? A: Coronal Plasma. Remenber back in the olden times when we'd lose contact with a re-entering capsule? The air friction caused a loss of radio contact. Now can you see why this is a Bad Idea for a readio-controlled craft?
  • by TedTschopp (244839) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @08:10PM (#37136680) Homepage
    This is how science moves forward. You make a mistake, you think about it, you engineer a solution and then see how badly it blows up. Granted that is over simplified, but without mistakes, missteps, and anomalies we don't move technology forward. Many of the problems we face as a society will not be solved by buying a solution from the local supermarket, they will be solved by a crazy person who believes that the future can be better and has the resources to "waste" working the bugs out of his crazy vision. Its been that way from the dawn of time, and it will be that way 10,000 years from now.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Don't be absurd. Obviously if it doesn't work flawlessly right out of the gate then it is a hopeless boondoggle that only serves as proof that everyone involved is conspiring to waste taxpayer money on things that can't ever possibly work.

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      Many of the problems we face as a society will not be solved by buying a solution from the local supermarket

      Oh, don't I know it! The hypersonic jet I bought from H.E.B. didn't even make it off the ground!

    • by aquabat (724032)

      Many of the problems we face as a society will not be solved by buying a solution from the local supermarket, they will be solved by a crazy person who believes that the future can be better and has the resources to "waste" working the bugs out of his crazy vision

      Dr. Evil, is that you?

    • "Just a heads up, we're gonna have a super conductor turned up full blast and pointed at you for the duration of this next test. I'll be honest, we're throwing science at the walls here to see what sticks. No idea what it'll do."

        -Cave Johnson

    • by sgtrock (191182)

      The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it) but 'That's funny...'

      Isaac Asimov

    • No, engineering (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Animats (122034) on Friday August 19, 2011 @02:58AM (#37138858) Homepage

      This is how science moves forward.

      No, this is how engineering moves forward if you have enough money. In the 1940s and 1950s, a huge number of experimental aircraft and rockets were built. Some worked, some didn't, and some went through a large number of prototypes before they worked. There were terrible problems getting early jet fighters to work right. A lot of test pilots died. Even the successful military planes weren't that safe; in the 1950s, a Navy pilot had about a 1 in 5 chance of dying in a crash, without help from the enemy.

      In the early days of rocketry, a huge number of rockets were launched unsuccessfully. About 600 V-2 rocket launches were attempted in the R&D phase, before they were able to hit London. ICBM development in the US and USSR had dozens of launch failures. Frequent launches were expensive, but projects were completed faster.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        No, this is how engineering moves forward if you have enough money.

        No, that is how engineering moves forward cheaply. The Soviets were able to develop their space programme with a far lower budget than the US because they covered up failures. NASA tended to test everything thoroughly on the ground before launch, which cost a lot because they needed test facilities and equipment, because every accident was made public. They also had to send up more purely scientific payloads to gather data about the environment in space so they could do the tests, where as the USSR just ten

    • To me, the most encouraging thing is that it was a partial success... Which means they know that a lot went right, and that they have data to learn from too.

      It did achieve Mach 20 for about 3 minutes... At that speed it went roughly 760 miles in those 3 minutes. Getting anything to go that fast at all is damn impressive.

      • It isn't really that impressive that they got something to go Mach 20, considering that they launched it from a tried and true rocket. I could've put a cinderblock atop that rocket (a decommissioned Peacekeeper ICBM) and it would've went Mach 20.
    • This is how science moves forward. You make a mistake, you think about it, you engineer a solution and then see how badly it blows up. Granted that is over simplified, but without mistakes, missteps, and anomalies we don't move technology forward. Many of the problems we face as a society will not be solved by buying a solution from the local supermarket, they will be solved by a crazy person who believes that the future can be better and has the resources to "waste" working the bugs out of his crazy vision.

      This isn't blue-sky, pure research-for-the-sake-of-research, making the world a happy fuzzy place kinda stuff. The Falcon is part of a program called Prompt Global Strike, which is designed to allow the U.S. to strike with conventional weapons, anywhere in the world, within 1-2 hours, like an ICBM without the nuke.

      It would allow the U.S. to take out high-value targets, like terrorist leaders, leaders of rogue states, nuclear facilities and nuclear weapons, without using the nuclear option. Since you wouldn

  • Any idea what the propellant was, and how much it was carrying? Probably not related, but for the last two days a mysterious jet-fuel like odor has been wafting around San Diego county.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A) This was thousands of km out in the Pacific [wikipedia.org]
      B) It didn't have any propulsion. Just a few reaction control jets, almost certainly not powered by jet fuel (it's basically a very high speed glider, like the Shuttle on reentry)

      There's no connection.

      • by afidel (530433)
        Interesting, I know one of the big scramjet problems is skin heating, the plans I have seen call for using the fuel as a heatsink. Perhaps for this experiment they used something with similar heat carrying capabilities to stand in for the fuel.
    • by mjwx (966435)

      Probably not related, but for the last two days a mysterious jet-fuel like odor has been wafting around San Diego county.

      Has Taco Bell changed their recipe.

  • wow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aquabat (724032) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @08:30PM (#37136862) Journal
    Holy fuck! Mach 20? I scan slashdot regularly, but I somehow missed this story developing. I think the really cool thing about this is how the onboard systems allowed it to make a controlled splashdown. I bet no pilot in the world could deadstick a landing like that from that kind of speed. This is probably the beginning of the end for the fighter pilots.
    • It's unmanned, I mean I love technology but does this have any applications outside of the military?

      How about working to make civilian flight cheaper/faster.
      • It wasn't unmanned. Unfortunately, the janitor was onboard and didn't get out in time. However, during the flight, cosmic rays altered his genes and he now turns green and shouts "me rompe!" when he gets angry about the cost of cable TV. You don't want see Jose when he gets angry.
      • by imsabbel (611519)

        Think second stage for rockets to archieve orbit!

        With Mach 20, you are 70% to orbital velocity, while air breathing enourmously reduces weight requirements.

        So, booster to mach 3 or whatever the scramjet needs to start, then accelerate and get height. After reaching Mach 20, activate rocket stage to enter orbit.

        That would allow a _real_ space shuttle.

        • by delt0r (999393)

          while air breathing enourmously reduces weight requirements.

          Air intakes, drag from these intakes and even the engine itself (the entire bottom of the craft) and are not light or cheap. While LOX and fuel is very cheap. GLOW is *not* a good indicator of cost. Also you still need that last 30% from somewhere and as of yet, not a single result has been published to show that these hypersonic engines produce more thrust than drag.

      • It's unmanned, I mean I love technology but does this have any applications outside of the military?

        It was not only unmanned but also unpowered from what I've read so far. It was launched on the top of a missile that got it up to speed. This was, in effect, a test glider to check out the areodynamics of going at that speed. I bet once they have good data, it will be combined with the ram/scram jet research that they are also doing and we will return back to trying to get into orbit with a space plane. The p

    • Re:wow (Score:5, Funny)

      by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @08:56PM (#37137048)
      Yah, I thought it was pretty crazy when they went straight from Mach3 to Mach5. My question is,"How do they get 20 blades on a razor? Does it look like a chisel or something?"
    • I don't know if a pilot could land a 20 Mach+ airplane, but the two Falcon crashes prove one thing: nobody would ever go up in a hypersonic glider unless it had an extensive flight-test program first.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      I'm pretty sure a pilot could (well I don't know what the g forces are on that thing, let's assume they are conscious). After all "controlled splashdown" means "dive straight down into the ocean", also known as "crashing". Which is better than flying at Mach 20 in a random direction and hoping you stay over water.

    • by evanbd (210358)

      Going fast at altitude doesn't make landings inherently difficult; you just need to slow down before you get there, which isn't usually that hard. For a couple examples of high-velocity manual piloting: Pete Knight flew an X-15 re-entry from over Mach 4 with no electrical power, no backup electrical power, and correspondingly no instruments. And Gordon Cooper flew a manual re-entry of a Mercury capsule from orbit:"So I used my wrist watch for time," he later recalled, "my eyeballs out the window for attitud

      • I knew about Pete Knight, but Gordon Cooper, I had never heard of that little feat of manual piloting.
        Ahh the days of "The Right Stuff"

        Some days i feel like more people should die trying to get up there... make it risky & dangerous & daring... a feat to even manage to get up.
        Maybe then people might find it more interesting & it wouldnt be like "oh, another launch... Yawn"

    • Re:wow (Score:5, Informative)

      by subreality (157447) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @10:32PM (#37137630)

      Mach 20 isn't really exotic in this context: don't think of it as a plane; it's more like a Reentry Vehicle for an ICBM warhead. The innovation is instead of following a ballistic trajectory (perhaps with minor maneuvering with an RCS), it glides aerodynamically. That gives it considerably more maneuverability, which would let it drop a bunch of bombs along the way, retarget late in flight, evade countermeasures like a fox, and perhaps even work as a rapid-deployment surveillance platform.

      As far as air breathing aircraft go, we haven't progressed very well since the late 60s / early 70s. In that era, we came up with the Concorde (Mach 2 supercruise), and the SR-71 (Mach 3 on an engine that's built like a turbojet with reheat, but effectively operates as a ramjet at cruise speed). For practical aircraft, that's the best we've ever done. Prototypes like the X-43 and X-51 are pushing it farther, but they're only running a couple minutes at a time so far. Sustained flight at those speeds is really hard, so the Falcon's approaching it from the other end: bringing down the speed of a rocket-boosted vehicle instead of trying to raise the speed of an air-breather.

      Unfortunately it's mostly a military toy since it's rocket-launched. Few peaceful applications are going to want to pay for an IRBM or ICBM per-use. The most we'll get out of it is knowledge about how to fly at these speeds which may come in handy if we get a practical scramjet working.

      • The most we'll get out of it is knowledge about how to fly at these speeds which may come in handy if we get a practical scramjet working.

        And I'm glad we are getting some practical working knowledge. I would hate to get an engine functioning at scramjet speeds only to have to spend another 2 decades trying to control it.

        If there was no ICBM application we would hopefully carry out the same research just under the auspices of "applicable science". I don't know that the military applications in the short term diminish the larger significance in researching future flight systems.

        Hopefully this will also improve our aerodynamic models so that

        • Oh, I'm happy for what we get. Yes, military research gives us lots of good spinoff tech. NASA and DARPA develop all kinds of toys for us. I just want to set people's expectations that this thing doesn't suggest that practical hypersonic aircraft are even on the horizon yet.

      • Unfortunately it's mostly a military toy since it's rocket-launched.

        At mach 20, you could dust all the crops in Illinois in just a few minutes. Of course, Cary Grant might have a harder time dodging...

        • This ain't like dusting crops, boy; one miscalculation and we could crash into the ocean or a building or a mountain and that would end this trip real quick.

          • by mcswell (1102107)

            Mach 20? At the rate they're gaining? How long before you can make the jump to light speed?

      • by jandrese (485)
        From what I can tell, reality just caught up with aircraft development. Going faster is of limited use if it requires outrageous amounts of fuel that prevent the aircraft from ever being economical. Plus, unlike the planes of old, you can't build a supersonic rocket glider in your back yard if you just have a thing for aviation. So pretty much the only people who have both the money and interest to do something like this are research institutions (like the JPL, which doesn't have the money) and the milit
        • by Anonymous Coward

          This isn't true. BA has said that Concorde was always profitable. (It wasn't for the governments though.)

          • by tgd (2822)

            Anything can be profitable if someone else pays for most of it.

            • by m50d (797211)
              It was profitable on the London-NY route, even taking into account the development costs. Air France could never make a profit from it though. The sensible thing would've been to keep it running London-NY only, but unfortunately the agreement between BA and Air France was that if one of them wanted to stop running it they both had to.
        • British Airways never received any subsidy for their Concorde flights after they bought out the British Government from their share shortly after the British Airways privitisation - and from that point onward, British Airways managed to run Concorde at a fairly decent profit.

          Infact, for several years during the 1990s, Concorde was BA's best profit center.

          What did they change? The prices. When the Government ran the public airline, they priced Concorde as a "get the clientele flying BA, then make money of

    • It was launched on top of a rocket that brought it up to Mach 20. That isn't anything new or exciting. They lost contact with this aircraft and it's presumed to have crashed. When you're thousands of miles over the Pacific Ocean and your vehicle breaks, a "splashdown" is not difficult at all. In fact it's about the only thing you're going to do! Also, I'm not sure why people are getting excited about this hypersonic glider that has a 100% failure rate. The Space Shuttle was a hypersonic glider that success
  • We need to continue looking at things like this. This seems like a useful program that we should be funding. Sadly, CONgress killed blackswift already, which would have been equally useful.
  • That's about 1224 kilometers or 760.5 miles. In three freaking minutes. That's normally a 1-2 hour plane ride. Or an 11 hour drive. In three minutes.
    • I know, it's beautiful isn't it? An astonishing achievement no matter how you look at it. Mach20...

      • I wonder does it make any noise. If it's gliding, there's no engine. But I wonder if the sheer speed it's passing through the air would generate any. It would be so eerie to be nearby to it doing a fly-by.

        • The sonic boom will make you wet yourself with giddy excitement.

          This reminds me of an Arthur C. Clarke novel where a spaceship traversed a section (many tens of miles or something) of atmosphere within a second or two - the author described it like a bullet drilling a hole through the atmosphere which then collapsed again (for miles behind the speeding craft) creating an almighty sonic boom... not too different here I imagine.

        • by jgtg32a (1173373)
          Bullets make noise when they whiz by
  • Ask the Chinese government...they have the schematics.
  • HT-2 managed ~three minutes of controlled flight at _Mach 20_. THAT'S the pudding. The rest is washing up.

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