It took six months, but the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency finally has a handle on what caused its hypersonic weapon prototype to “terminate” itself over the Pacific Ocean back in April. The findings have paved the way for a fresh round of tests for the Mach-20 flier, potentially leading to a new class of super-fast weapons.
On April 22, the Hypersonic Test Vehicle 2 — a 12-foot, 2,000-pound wedge packing a three-stage Minotaur booster — launched without incident from California and climbed to the edge of space for a planned 30-minute, 4,000-mile jaunt toward Kwajalein in the middle of the Pacific. But nine minutes into the flight, controllers on the ground lost contact with the HTV-2. The culprit, according to Darpa’s Engineering Review Board? “Higher-than-predicted yaw, which coupled into roll thus exceeding the available control capability at the time of the anomaly.”