Skin-peeling speed doomed hypersonic glider, U.S. says
April 23rd, 2012
12:06 AM ET

Skin-peeling speed doomed hypersonic glider, U.S. says

By Larry Shaughnessy

A test flight of an aircraft designed to whip around the world at Mach 20 failed when the high speeds peeled the skin off the unmanned plane, Pentagon researchers conclude in a long-awaited report.

For nine minutes in August, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency flew its Hypersonic Technology Vehicle at speeds reaching 20 times the speed of sound - fast enough to fly from New York to Los Angeles in less than 12 minutes. But then, something went wrong, and DARPA is finally explaining what happened.

"The most probable cause of the HTV-2 Flight 2 premature flight termination was unexpected aeroshell degradation," the research group explained in a new statement on the test flight.

Translation: The unmanned glider was streaking through the atmosphere when its outer skin started to rip off the airframe.

DARPA knew friction from the glider passing through the air so fast would cause it to heat up. It also expected "a gradual wearing away of the vehicle's skin as it reached stress tolerance limits," based on ground tests.

"However, larger-than-anticipated portions of the vehicle's skin peeled from the aerostructure," the statement said. "The resulting gaps created strong, impulsive shock waves around the vehicle as it traveled nearly 13,000 miles per hour, causing the vehicle to roll abruptly."

When that "anomaly" occurred, a safety computer slowed the glider down and it splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, where it's now probably an artificial reef with a moon roof.

The goal of the project is to create an aircraft that can fly anywhere in the world in under an hour to strike a target. The test plane was launched by a Minotaur IV rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, then separated from the booster and re-entered the atmosphere over the Pacific.

At Mach 20, friction from the surrounding air subjects the vehicle to temperatures of more than 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,925 C).

DARPA said a group of independent experts decided they couldn't have predicted the problem. "The data from second flight revealed that extrapolating from known flight regimes and relying solely on advanced thermal modeling and ground testing could not successfully predict the harsh realities of Mach 20 atmospheric flight," the agency said.

A 2010 test also ended with the craft plunging into the Pacific. In spite of the problems, DARPA said it did learn a lot from the August test.

"We successfully incorporated aerodynamic knowledge gained from the first flight into the second flight," Maj. Chris Schultz, the program manager, said. And future flights will incorporate what was learned in the second test, he said.

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Filed under: DARPA
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  23. Richard (Buck) Rogers

    JC... etc... The airframe failed at extreme. Get over it and make it work. There is more breath here than is necessary to fix the problem. Who are all these Negatoids? Screw em... fix it... on to the next problem.

    April 24, 2012 at 3:49 am | Reply
  24. dave54

    but how fast will it bring a hooker from Cartagena to Washington DC?

    April 24, 2012 at 12:59 am | Reply
    • SayanIndia

      @dave54, irrelevant (even if the vehicle could accommodate human beings for arguments sake).

      Will not be able to offer "premium services" upon arrival (at that speed) for at least a week.


      April 24, 2012 at 7:32 am | Reply
  25. SayanIndia

    India’s defence laboratories are conducting extensive research on Carbon-Fibre-Composites (CFC) with exceptional success and I am sure will be interested in reciprocal sharing of technologies :).


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  26. Mojo Jack

    Did we do this as a response to N. Korea's recent rocket failure?

    If alien spacecrafts are real and the government has been recovering them since the 1940s I would think we could build a skin that can withstand such speeds by now. After all aren't alien spacecraft capable of light speed?

    April 23, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      At the speed of light, hitting the atmosphere isn't any different than hitting Mt. Everest.

      As for NK, hypersonic missile research has been going on for at least 20 years.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Reply
      • Solitairedog

        At the speed of light, hitting anything at all would be a royally bad idea, wouldn't it? Even a gnat.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
      • Truth Hurts

        Travel the speed of light? Reading comprehension?

        April 24, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • cavepainter

      No, the article says this was done back in august. They're only just now reaching conclusions from the data about what happened. 🙂

      April 23, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Reply
  27. Ron97470

    As a Physicist myself, i always have considered about 6000 MPH the upper limit for atmospheric flights. Beyond that you wand to go sub orbital and get away from friction as well as gravitational effects. What were they thinking going 12,000 MPH? Look at what happens to meteorites. Except for solid core metallic ones they detonate in our atmosphere. Well, guess they could always work on creating an area of vacuum around the craft. Theoretically, there is also anti-mater protection. But I don't believe either will be going anywhere for a very long time.

    One more thing. At 12,000 MPH, I would hate to live anywhere in the path of that sonic crack. It could easily cause structural damage. I lived near an air force base i Arizona in the 1960' and The F101's, F4C's and a few other jets broke the sound barrier over my home frequently. Once, the dining room ceiling collapsed from one. Glad I wasn't in the room as the dining room table and 4 chairs were crushed. And upper speed on any of those would have been less than 1400 MPH.

    April 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      At Mach 20, all foreseeable missile defense systems simply will not work. As an added bonus, the kinetic energy alone will often be sufficient to cause enormous damage, no warhead required. These are just some of the reasons for interest in hypersonic missiles.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Reply
    • Solitairedog

      As a child, in the mid-50's, I lived on Sandia Base in Albaqueque NM where they were experimenting with breaking the sound barrier, over and over and over again, every day it seemed. The "boom" overhead became commonplace. I have wondered over the years if that had something to do with my hearing loss, which showed up at a very early age as well.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Reply
  28. twistypurple

    "as highly-trained advanced aerospace scientists with years of experience in the field, after years of pouring over computer models and simulation data as well as the fundamental science behind our project, we have logically and inescapably reached the conclusion that we just couldn't have known that this wasn't going to work"

    gotta love it

    April 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      It sounds to me like it did pretty much work, except right at the end. They achieved Mach 20, which is extremely impressive. Honestly, I'm surprised it held together that long; that's some seriously pioneering engineering in play.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Reply
    • Peter Nunes

      Poring, not "pouring".

      April 23, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Reply
    • Shane

      Well its the truth. I doubt we had a working formula to calculate the heat from the friction at that speed. There are always extra variables that we cannot account for until the testing phases for things this cutting edge.

      April 24, 2012 at 5:46 am | Reply
  29. Thor

    I read a much more comprehensive report on this last September, what are they scraping the bottom of the barrel for stories?

    April 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Reply
  30. Brian

    So is this the "meteor" that caused the sonic boom? Lol.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Reply
  31. duh

    That's the excuse I gave the police officer that pulled me over for riding my motorcycle naked. went so fast it tore my clothes off. excuse didn't work.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Reply
  32. Not Crazy...Yet

    It should be noted that the 13K mph the drone was going at when it disintegrated is about 1K mph faster than the speed the Space Shuttle Columbia was traveling during return from orbit in 2003. The automatic flight control system of the shuttle worked so well at coping with the asymetrical aerodynamics induced by the disintegrating wing that both the astronauts and ground control were unaware there was a problem until just a few seconds before shuttle disintegrated. Probably just as well as there was nothing that could have been done about it. The astronauts were effectively dead the moment they did the deorbit burn.

    At those speeds, things happen real, real fast. The drone probably came down like the shuttle did: thousands of pieces scattered over hundreds of square miles.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  33. andyst

    With a ship that goes 13000mph we can get to conflicts we should not be involved in much faster.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Reply
    • Adam

      Yes please keep shoehorning your half-baked political ideology into everything. That's really constructive.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Reply
      • Chris

        Politics is always involved in government testing of new technology and weapons. Our politicians fund these very technologies that enable our government to develop and test their creations for future use.

        April 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
      • andyst

        You are correct, I accept your idiology. My new stance is that this will enable us to expedite our ability to get aid around the world in a reduced amount of time thus saving many more lives.

        April 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
      • duh

        well, they don't build these things to save the earth or people.

        April 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  34. lynne

    It's not that I don't understand the value of this research IN GENERAL. I do. My problem is, does this need to be done NOW, when our economy is shaky at best? I don't see the fiscal sense in spending millions or even billions on this endeavor when there are so many more pressing places that money is needed.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Reply
    • Bob

      Yes, it's needed. The current economic dip is pretty much nothing when you compare it to the long run performance of the US economy. It's true a lot of people are out of work, but the fact is that their current skills do not add much value to today's operations.

      The only thing that fuels economic growth is innovation. People are so obsessed over finding jobs. People should be obsessed with creating jobs. It doesn't always mean being an entrepreneur. It also means developing skills that can help build new technology or industries.

      It's always stunning how people can live by accepting mediocrity every day. Americans have so much untapped potential it's sad. Some of the best stuff was invented or created during our dark moments. People need to start coming up with their own ideas. You don't need to be an engineer or a scientist to have an idea. Get the idea first, then find those people to help you.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Reply
    • David

      Many people said what you said to the Wright Brothers. Some day people will be placed in orbit to space hotels and return safely.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Reply
    • Alan

      Perhaps when the economy is the shakiest is the best time for such projects. Think outside the box.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  35. Steve

    This will be great for Fedex.....when your package absolutely, positively, has to be there in an hour!

    April 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Reply
    • larry

      Maybe they need to apply some vasoline to that vehicle!

      April 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Reply
  36. Rabbi

    What stupid Americans seem not to understand, is that Jews are chosen people.

    We will reap the rewards of our faithful service to Yahweh.

    The goyim of this world should be happy to fight over the scraps that we Jews throw from table.

    Israel will reign supreme over earth, and anybody challenging that assertion will be conquered, with the help of US military.

    You people may not like us Jews, but you WILL learn to fear us.

    If a few of you must die to save a few of us....that's a bargain I can live with. Your own nations agree with me on this.

    Your sacrafices are necessary to ensure the survival of the only democracy in the middle east. Be happy.

    Long may Israel reign.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Reply
    • lynne

      Having a real hard time fearing someone who has so short an attention span that they can't even take the time to find a somewhat on topic article to post this filth on. Poor reading comprehension skills only make you seem more ignorant. Try the belief blog, loser.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Reply
    • Enough already

      Man read proverbs for a bit of humility...oh and shut up...

      April 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Reply
    • Bill in Florida

      W TF are you talking about?

      April 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Reply
    • michaeldw

      What are you talking about?

      April 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Reply
    • G-d

      Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Reply
    • Tom

      Why are you pretending to be someone you are not?

      Are you trying to create division between the only democracy in the Middle East and the U.S.A.?

      Crawl back under you're rock.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Reply
    • Mike in NJ

      Don't they call this kind of thing a 'false flag'? Sounds like some triple k guy trying to stir the pot. Move along, only an idiot fooling no one.

      April 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Reply
    • YoungMarine

      fuckin Jew troll

      April 23, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Reply
    • Silver

      "Rabbi"–it is clear to anyone Jewish that you are NOT a Jew. Each thing you said is a blatant lie. Jews were "the chosen" not to be special but to suffer, you moron. You know nothing of value.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Reply


    April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  38. Truefax

    The REAL problem is that we're a part of the ICBM treaty, and can't just blow up shit with them even with a conventional warhead. What's it s supposed to be? A weapons delivery system or kin to a cruise missle in and of itself? If it's supposed to lead to a weapon then the probem is easier, if they plan on recoving the thing then it's much more of a hassle.

    They've probably done all they can with the areodynamics of it, so next up they'll try an internal cooling system with some liquified gas if it needs to be recoverd, if not then this was probably their last test and they have enough data to more forward.

    April 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      I doubt recovery is an option; it likely disintegrated into thousands of small pieces.

      As for treaties, at Mach 20 you don't need a warhead; the kinetic energy alone will cause massive destruction on impact.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Reply
  39. Brian Smith

    It can never be 'too fast' to kill people. We want to be able to kill anyone, anywhere, before we even think we want to kill them – then it might be 'fast enough' – but never too fast. Oh and to do that, give us ALL of your money – budgets are for losers, so give us even more money than exists and we can do it – just give us 200 years...

    April 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Reply
    • Truefax

      Best way to do that would have been to put weapons in space, nothing more awkward than knowing the US can bring down fire from sky on you at any given moment. But we didn't go there, so this will have to do for now.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  40. Egg

    How much $$$ are we wasting on this, so we can "fly anywhere in the world and strike a target in under an hour".
    We need to spend billions so we can kill them in their bunkers quicker?

    April 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Reply
    • Cardiac50

      Sometimes the cheapest option isn't really cheap. .how much money would we have saved if we would have been able to strike a safe house in the Sudan when Bin Laden was there in the 90's?.. or an FAE at just the right spot.. where you can't get a drone or a tomahawk in easily.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Reply
    • Josh

      Even if there are billions of dollars invested in this technology, just imagine the possibilities for commercial flight once this is perfected. Even at Mach 5, you could cut travel times by 80% or so. Right now Chicago to Tokyo takes about 12 hours. Dropping that down to a 3 hour flight would be fantastic.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Reply
      • 111Dave111

        Slow down Einstein, I think the Concorde was too expensive to fly.

        April 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
      • WaitaMinute

        Only problem with that 3 hour flight is gravities. Fighter pilots black out and they are theoretically in top shape, most commuters are hardly in top shape and would not be able to take the gravities that flight speed would generate. These high speed flights would only be for unmanned ships.

        April 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
      • ajk68

        It's g-forces, not gravities. Gravity on earth is pretty much the same everywhere.

        April 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
      • CTYank

        As for yer "gravities" the accelerations would be on launch and landing. No need for more than fractional-g.

        Fighter pilots experience extreme accelerations ("g"s to you) on maneuvering, which is not done with passenger aircraft.

        Get your stuff straight or sit still and listen up.

        April 23, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
      • Jamok

        not so much with the "gravaties" which I believe you are refering to G forces. those are in place when accelerating but once you are at speed and in motion then the G effects are non existent. Think of the SR-71 black bird they fly quite a bit faster then the speed of sound (I believe around Mach 3) and are just fine.
        it's just like riding in a car when you are cruising down the road at 75 you don't feel the G's but if I accelerate from 0-10 mph with a floored gas you would feel it a lot more

        April 23, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Greg

      Not as much as we are wasting on your foodstamps and other leech like govt programs

      April 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Reply
      • Adam

        Somehow keeping people alive is a waste???

        April 23, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
      • Greg

        They need to get a job.....

        April 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
      • DWL

        Yah, Greg would rather play GOP GI Joe and be able to kill people around the world than to help the sick, elderly and children that live in poverty. Standard neanderthal member of the TGOP.

        April 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm |


        April 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
      • ElGiblet

        The working people want defense to protect their money. The non-working people want the working people to give them their money instead. The non-working people are probably bad at chess, since they can't see two moves ahead...

        April 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
      • Frank Tillery

        Stop whining and vote!

        April 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
      • Choad

        A mere drop in the bucket considering what it costs us to prop up the true leeches in Congress.

        April 23, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • realistinthewest

      What do you mean they couldn't have predicted the problem? They got high school kids working at DARPA?

      April 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Reply
      • reACTIONary

        DARPA doesn't do predictable. If its predictable, it isn't their mission. They only attempt to do not only what cannot be yet be done, but what cannot be concieved of being done.

        April 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Ncanon

      The space program gave us GPS, doppler radar, CAT scans, advances in computers, miniaturization, food preservation technology... these sorts of programs represent one of the last few bastions of pure research for the advancement of humanity that the government has left. Given less than 2% of my tax dollars go into the space program and military R&D (this is tracked separately from acquisitions... i.e. buying more tanks and guns, or paying to support our military infrastructure), I'll gladly pay for it.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Reply
      • DerpDerp

        Actually the Department of Defense gave us the GPS system. It was developed at DoD labs, launched at DoD facilities, and maintained by a special division within the DoD. Same with doppler. It was military applications and advancements that made it affordable enough to be adopted for weather applications.

        The "space program" is NASA. DARPA is part of the Department of Defense.

        April 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
      • Ncanon

        You are correct, perhaps I should have said "led to". The DoD did launch the original GPS satellites, but the technology to launch the satellites and utilize them for positioning started even before program 621B, which itself was a SAMSO project... which was an air force entity that is considered part of the space program.

        My point is that what some may consider technology boondoggle has historically led to some very practical innovations.

        April 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • ElGiblet

      DId you know you can save quite a bit of money by not installing any doors or windows on your house? I mean, if a thief wants to get in, he'll find a way in. No point in having any walls, either.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Reply
      • WaitaMinute

        All you have to do is stand your ground.

        April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • skytag

      This is great stuff. In the grand scheme of things it's probably not costing that much, and there's a chance some of what they learn could be applied to commercial aircraft at some point.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Reply
    • Alan

      How money money did DARPA waste on that crackpot project called ARPAnet? What ever happened to that project anyway...?

      Oh, that's right, it's now called the Internet.

      Yes, DARPA has a track record of wasting money. Their overall expenses are clearly far greater than the benefits. Bzzzzt. Not.

      How about doing more research into DARPA than reading a single article before you pass judgment?

      April 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  41. AlCourts

    April 23, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Reply
    • 111Dave111

      I'm sure, Al Courts at Hear-The-Truth is the most unbiased spammer ever.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Reply
    • catsnake

      the TRUTH is that you people are paranoid scared weak people with not enough to do in your lonely world.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Reply
  42. BloodNThunder

    I love how they mention that the craft plummeted into the Pacific Ocean and is most likely acting as an artificial reef for marine life. What the failed to mention was the deadly chemical residual that this craft left behind.

    April 23, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Reply
    • 111Dave111

      Heres to hoping they thought about using up and burning up the worst of these residues, so that it was only a drop in the ocean.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Reply
    • freqflyr

      You are right they failed to mention that scram jets are powered only by hydrogen which is one of the most common elements on earth. As I understand it the hydrogen and atomospheric oxygen spontaneously combust at the extremely high rate of compression caused by air taken into the engine at speeds above Mach 4 or so. There would be trace amounts of mercury in some of the instrumentation as well as copper in the the computers. What did I leave out?

      April 23, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Reply
      • PaulBoomer

        You left out the fact that GLIDERS don't have engines or fuel.

        April 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
      • 111Dave111

        Paul Boomer: like a hollow bullet?

        April 23, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • ElGiblet

      Blood and thunder! For the Horde!

      April 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  43. ghostmule

    Im just curious to know whay the government is spending so much money on a craft that can fly that fast. I mean, whats the point?

    April 23, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Reply
    • jpip

      @ghostmule: it's in the article. Looking for a warhead delivery vehicle that can hit any target on the planet within 1 hour. If I remember anything from "Lost", these folks at the Darpa Innitiative will figure it out.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Reply
      • whatsinaname

        That was actually the DARMA initiative and not the DARPA initiative in LOST.

        April 23, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
      • jpip

        They had to change it from DARPA to DARMA for security reasons. You need to read about it. It's on the internet.

        April 23, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • almxx

      The usual protect our liberties while destroying our enemies. Earth will have to remain a minor hell forever to try to make the rich ever richer.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Reply
      • JMB

        oh shut up.. jeez....

        April 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
      • San Juaninos

        Amen JMB!

        April 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
      • Choad

        Careful, almxx, you're pissing off the cannon fodder.

        April 23, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Several reasons. Among them: the ability to deliver a payload anywhere on the planet in under an hour; anything moving that fast doesn't really need a warhead on it to cause considerable damage from kinetic energy alone; anything moving that fast is very near impossible to hit with anti-missile technologies.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Reply
      • vbscript2

        Tell that to the satellite we shot down a few years ago... If you can track it on radar in time, all you have to do is put something in front of it. The collision at that velocity would immediately destroy both vehicles, even without explosives.

        April 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
      • Jon White

        That is correct. The kinetic energy alone has the potential to create impact damage similar to an atomic explosion. Thus you would have the ability to stealthy destroy nearly any hardened bunker in the world, without the negative effects of atomic fallout, radiation, and the ever growing importance of world opinion.

        Go DARPA Go!

        +h4nK J00 f0r My 1NTerwEb$!

        April 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • ElGiblet

      You don't stay awesome rolling around forever in poo.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  44. Mendoza

    On another note, UFO sightings increased 1000%

    April 23, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Reply
    • Aletheya

      Silly. You can't see it at the altitude it flies at.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Reply
      • joethejuggler

        Apparently it just flew down to sea level.

        April 23, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  45. Robert

    I have always thought the best material would be phase changing ceramic. At low speeds the material would be flexible and easily worked but as the speed and heat increases the material would need to become more rigid and heat resistant. The two phases would allow for effective control and safe flight at lower speeds and endurance and heat resistance at high speeds. Ceramics and the like have a good chance of having these properties.

    They might try to place a set of emitter tips made of a tungsten titanium alloy placed at several high friction locations on the craft which would spray a liquid ceramic mist the solidifies at immense pressure and heat to create a self healing skin. If they make the material water soluble it will wash of at lower speeds in the clouds, with a wash system on board, or after landing. Since at these high speeds and heat water could exist only as a vapor and might even ionize, it should not be a problem. This lets you remove the coating and at the same time it provides a self healing skin.

    April 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Reply
    • TSuisei

      Hi Robert! Are you married? 🙂

      April 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Reply
    • billy knows it

      you need to go work for DARPA, or at least you think you do, anything sprayed onto to anything at 13000 mph will not do anything...

      April 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Reply
    • Imbecile

      It looks like all DARPA has to do to solve their problems is read comments on the Internet.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Reply
      • jpip

        plenty of armchair astrophysicists to spare around here... Those people at Darpa are a bunch of morons for not coming here first. What a colossal waste of money, fo sho. Could of had this thing nailed on the first attempt...

        April 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • reACTIONary

      When it lands? This thing isn't designed for landing.

      April 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  46. dakota2000

    There are always those who say "yes but we could have spent this money on the poor."
    Haven't you heard the old Chinese proverb :" give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime?"

    The poor have benefited from a general advance of technology. in this country you can be poor, but still have internet access to an entire world of knowledge (thanks to darpa). The internet's has the ability to lift people out of poverty, much a free books from Franklin's public library system.., if people our children will learn to use it wisely.

    With the Internet, anyone with marginal typing skills can realize their full potential.

    And yes, Internet use is free at Libraries so everyone has access.

    Thank you Darpa., Thank you for your innovations.

    That one Invention, the internet, in my mind justifies the entire existence of DARPA for all time. Add to that GPS etc, and this is the world's leading organization of innovation. There is nothing like it.

    April 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Reply
    • khan in chandler

      I agree. If it wasn't for the innovation and curiosity and warfare, we would still be living in caves. Kudos to the individuals who tries the new ideas and the govt. who fund them.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Reply
      • Gabe

        amazing how simpletons like you are against "big government" unless that big government wants to spent trillions on blowing shit up and killing everyone who doesn't agree with your religion

        April 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
      • melvinslizard

        Gabe seems to be struggling to keep his stories seperate... This story is not about your mom, your family, your taxes, your politics, your health, or your conspiracy theories. Thanks.

        April 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Tim

      Except GPS didn't come out of DARPA. It predates DARPA and grew out of the Transit, Timation and 421B programs. The seeds of GPS go back to Sputnik and some Johns Hopkins engineers who were tracking Sputnik and calculating when it would next be in view. Someone reimagined the problem, i.e., if Sputnik knows where it is, we, receiving its signal, could calculate where we are.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Reply
      • Tim

        Sorry, make that 621B.

        April 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  47. jpip

    I don't know why they're so glum. If it's supposed to be a weapon, they're almost there. Just make sure that the enemy you want to attack is "in the Pacific Ocean"... They'll never hear it coming.

    April 23, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      Read up on DARPA before exposing such astonishing ignorance.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Reply
      • jpip

        whooaaa. thanks for putting me in my place. So what, are you like DARPA's big brother or something?

        April 23, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  48. manka

    Gime me a break. THIS IS WHAT THE STUPID americans were seeing and going nuts thinking they saw a craft from another planet....there are no UFO'S idiots. Its a power myth created by the white powers. Please .....

    April 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Reply
    • Sheepleherder

      Actually, "unidentified" flying objects are detected and reported every day throughout the world. The only "idiots" out there are the one's who don't know that.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Reply
      • joethejuggler

        Well, if we're going to be pedantic about the exact meaning of UFO, most UFOs are not in fact "flying" (the Moon, Venus, and Mars, for examples, do not "fly"), and some of them aren't even "objects" at all but optical illusions (reflections looking through windows, apparent movement due to spams in fatigued oculomotor muscles, etc.).

        But from the context, when someone says, "there are no ufo's [sic]" it's obvious that he means that there are no space aliens flying around in the Earth's atmosphere.

        April 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • melvinslizard

      UFOs are a white conspiracy, you say? hahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahhaahahahahahahahahahahaha
      We'll be looking for proof in your rectal probe... still looking... oh, wait. No, that's your head... still looking...

      April 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  49. Ron

    This is real Desha Vu. This article could have been written with very few words changed in 1965 when I was working on these things at the Marquardt Corpor ation.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:58 am | Reply
    • Sid Airfoil

      "Deja vu". French meaning "already seen".

      April 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Reply
      • jpip

        that'snot how they spelled it in 1965

        April 23, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  50. hamal

    THIS IS WHAT THE STUPID americans were seeing and going nuts thinking they saw a craft from another planet....there are no UFO'S idiots. Its a power myth created by the white powers.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:57 am | Reply
    • 111Dave111

      Power that Iran and North Korea want, too. Unfortunately with all this anger, we can't afford it, Too fast and too destructive. That is why the US and Russia are reducing the number of weapons. Lets work on reducing the anger, too.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Reply
    • Sheepleherder

      You're obviously an alien, sent from your home planet to distract the earths population by claiming you don't exist! We know better. We have pictures of you. We even know what you look like on the inside. You will not fool us with your lies.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Reply
    • melvinslizard

      Maybe it was Mohammed delivering Osama's 72 virgins...

      April 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  51. Mr Howdy 2 u 2

    My half penny is get a craft up to those speeds will require some kind of lift off and acceleration...during that lift off the craft will be very susceptible to all anti missile defenses conceived thus far...that is detection and for leaving these things in way. As for cruise type missiles traveling below way..too much pressure in frankly this kind of thing is probably not going to work as a weapon. And for very similar reasons may not work as a technological advent either....who is going to want to zoom around at mach twenty? If they told me I could be lifted up into space and drop down at 14000 miles an hour, I would say no thanks, I would rather take a steam boat frankly and work on my computer till I get there!!! Besides I would think they have learned enough with the Shuttle which actually flew at those speeds ON REENTRY...and also burned up there on one occasion. This is being done probably for the sake of the space plane...and its a good idea to study...but all the above stand against it for now...though I too believe that this may in fact be needed later for mass travel. But it will be very dangerous.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:56 am | Reply
    • Howard

      It can work. Think in terms of an unmanned globe circling bomber launched from inside the U.S. and able to reach anywhere on earth in under an hour. Shoot down during the launch phase would be impossible except from a space-based laser on permanent station over the U.S., and you don't seriously think we'll allow THAT to happen?

      April 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Reply
    • 111Dave111

      The article says: "For nine minutes in August, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency flew its Hypersonic Technology Vehicle at speeds reaching 20 times the speed of sound – fast enough to fly from New York to Los Angeles in less than 12 minutes."

      You said: "during that lift off the craft will be very susceptible to all anti missile defenses conceived thus far"

      I don't think so. Unless the "anti missile defenses conceived thus far" were very close.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Reply
    • vbscript2

      Yeah, the other commenters are right. It would be launched from within the U.S., so attacking it during the launch phase would be nearly impossible. And I think it's pretty obvious we aren't going to fly these things at cruise missle altitudes. These would be flying very high in the atmosphere where the air is much less dense.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Reply
  52. Badly-Bent

    Maybe the control edges need to be lined with synthetic diamond?

    April 23, 2012 at 11:52 am | Reply
    • Robert

      At that speed synthetic diamond, which are made of carbon, would burn like a lit magnesium flare because of the immense heat and super heated oxygen radicals in the compressed air stream flowing over it. Think of blowing on an ember of coal. Not only would it burn but it would burn with an enormous amount of energy.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Reply
      • SixDegrees

        Quite true. There's a very good video somewhere on the web demonstrating burning a diamond in liquid oxygen.

        April 23, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Brad

      I have often wondered if air directly in front of a craft could be momentarily vaporized creating a kind of vacuum or 'artificial space' and thereby decreasing drag. Too science-fictiony? What the heck, it's just a thought.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Reply
      • Tim

        What you're speaking of is laminar flow, and increasing the boundary layer of fluid (air) around the thing you're trying to protect.

        But no, you can't "vaporize" air. It's already a vapor.

        April 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Oakstave

      Not diamond. Thy burn.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Reply
    • billy knows it


      April 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  53. scott

    more cgi fron cnn

    April 23, 2012 at 11:47 am | Reply
  54. Tim

    As far as science and engineering goes, this is neat stuff.

    But - depending on warhead type and verifiability - if such a system were ever fielded, it could be VERY destabilizing. The reason Pershing II and comparable Soviet missiles were banned by the SALT II treaty was the hair-trigger quality they imposed on the NATO / Soviet confrontation in Europe. Neither side could identify a strategic or tactical advantage in these missiles' deployment, both understood the danger, so they were banned.

    A MACH 20 weapon system falls under the heading, "Be careful what you wish for."

    April 23, 2012 at 11:37 am | Reply
    • davidabarak

      Question for anyone that has the ability to answer – What would be the advantage of this system for delivering weapons over a regular ICBM, etc.? Is it a speed increase? (ICBMs are ballistic too, correct?) Or is it a greater ability to pick a target "on the fly" (pun intended).

      April 23, 2012 at 11:41 am | Reply
      • WilltheFree

        The advantage in theory is first strike. The time to target would be one hour *max*, however in most cases it would be much less. We could in theory hit their missile silos before they could even get the doors open to fire back.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:55 am |
      • Kevin

        It doesnt have the same trajectory as a ICBM. If we launch and ICBM, Russia would very likely fire a return strike in fear that we launched a nuke at them. The Falcon wont look like an ICBM to them, and will be less likely to cause a MAD reaction. The main reason though is speed. Intel about targets have certain windows to act on. If you find out there is a high value target at a location, but your assets are 12 hours away, by the time you act they would most likely be gone. But being able to hit a target in 30 mins is an extremely nice asset to have. Its speed also makes it nearly impossible to knock out considering the technological level of our enemies. Hell, I'm not sure that WE could knock it out.

        April 23, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
      • Will

        Kevin almost has it correct. A ballistic missile follows a mathematically precise path. The path is the same as an artillery shell. A glider launched on a missile would start off looking like a ballistic missile, but one aimed at a point nowhere near the target. Once the glider re-entered the atmosphere it could steer to its target – sort of like a cruise missile but with a much higher speed.

        April 23, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Ken

      IIn this day and age treaties like salt mean nothing. Our enemies have no mercy or even the understanding of it. The best defense is to have our enemies know that if they try anything, the payback can be in minutes.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:44 am | Reply
      • Tim

        It's all about verifiability. If there is a means to verify, and if there is benefit to be gained, try negotiation. If you don't try you know what the answer is.

        Try crawling out of your bunker mentaility and thinking strategically.

        April 23, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  55. Skeptic

    If it was easy the Chinese would have done it.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:33 am | Reply
    • 111Dave111

      And Nort Koreans

      April 23, 2012 at 11:39 am | Reply
    • 11:11

      It's very easy for the Chinese. Let the American's build it then steal it.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:41 am | Reply
      • SideOfBacon

        don't need to steal it. we would willingly allow the Chinese to have the engineering drafting designs and build them for us. just like we allow them to do for numerous US military vehicles.

        April 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  56. Space

    Vehicle structural failure lowers aircrew moral!

    April 23, 2012 at 11:31 am | Reply
  57. riflme

    The article and the responses are all amusing. Does anyone here think this story could be hyperbole, or better yet, propaganda?
    What we do know about anything secret is, nothing. The news media knows nothing, and are reporting nothing. Does anyone really have the true facts about that purported "hijacked" drone? No, and we will never know. Is it possible that while the Iranians thought they had recovered a super secret drone, we have "given" them a fake? How about, the drone was really monitoring where the Iranians took it? Sensors are microscopic now, we could be listening to them while they dissect it. I was hoping there was an IED inside the thing and as soon as we knew Iranian Dict. Imanutjob was peering into it, we would vaporize the idiot. But all this speculation is mere words.
    My point is, whatever is secret should stay secret, because there are real threats to this country's existence. Who may seem to be our friends are truly not; and who the the media reports as our enemy is nothing more than rhetoric.

    April 23, 2012 at 11:18 am | Reply
    • madcow11

      Look, riflme, it happens to be very interesting to know what DARPA is up to, even if we aren't let in on all the classified stuff. Think a bit more before just posting some meaningless rant.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:35 am | Reply
      • 111Dave111

        amen, "it happens to be very interesting to know what DARPA is up to, even if we aren't let in on all the classified stuff."

        April 23, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Jeff

      Your Dict Imanutjob comment caught me off guard and had me cracking up at work. Perhaps I am just tired but dang that was funny. Loved the story, just goes to show you, you learn as much from failure and sometimes even more than from success.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Reply
  58. akknight

    It's interesting to me, North Korea patches together a five and dime rocket which splashes down in the Pacific and we laugh, point out their starving masses, their military bluster. We spend one hundred (easily) times as much to push our already advanced military capabilities, while ignoring a pile of debt we will NEVER be able to pay, and yes, we have too many unemployed, but still we think our brand of insanity is SO much cooler. What purposes does all this "progress" serve when we can not care for those who are suffering now?

    April 23, 2012 at 11:04 am | Reply
    • Brian Berry(calmchessplayer)

      hands u a kleenex....too many unemployed between the drug addicts and actual unemployment sign ups we have around 16% total population unemployed.....and thats probably because not many of them want to work for under $18.00 per hour many more people have a job than not!

      April 23, 2012 at 11:14 am | Reply
      • 111Dave111


        Always love the "not many of them want to work" argument from conservatives
        who's incomes are up and
        taxes are down.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:27 am |
      • 111Dave111


        Always love the "not many of them want to work" argument from conservatives

        who's incomes are up and

        taxes are down.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:28 am |
      • MarkCali

        Even better, Dave – I love the "More people are working than not".

        Duh...otherwise it would be 51% unemployment. Someone hand this idiot a calculator.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:41 am |
      • Alan

        What is wrong with not WANTING to work for less than $18.00/hr? (I'd expect better use of language from a chess player.)

        April 23, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Don

      There's also the fact that we didn't launch this thing while saying, "HEY WORLD, LOOK AT WHAT WE CAN DO!!! FEAR OUR TECHNOLOGY AND OUR POWER!!!!!!!!" before it crashed and burned.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:31 am | Reply
    • Alan

      Have you considered the overall net benefit from DARPA vs the net cost? A couple benefits include the Internet and cell phone technology. I don't have exact numbers but either one of those benefits easily dwarfs the overall money spent by DARPA for all projects over its history.

      Not all projects are winners but some are. Some are huge winners. If we don't fund the research, we don't get the huge winners.

      You focus on human suffering. That is good. Consider the decrease in human suffering due to new technology. What can physicians do now that they couldn't do 40 years ago?

      One more thing. The Internet allowed Linux to grow. The both of them encouraged improvements in network technology. Better network technology and an open source O/S made it possible for LANL to develop Beowulf (which evolved into Grid computing - dramatically less expensive supercomputers). This can be used for all sorts of research, including medical and catching criminals (specifically serial criminals).

      DARPA, overall, has decreased human suffering in ways I doubt you'll ever understand unless you are willing to do man-weeks of research/learning. How about you leave them be unless you do the work?

      April 23, 2012 at 11:41 am | Reply
      • dakota2000

        And Dod + Darpa developed GPS... driverless cars... the list goes on.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Johnobody

      I am sure your relocation to North Korea would be welcomed by both sides. While you may have a point about the budgetary concerns and America's ability to pay off its debts, scientific innovation does tend to have its origins in odd places. Military research gave us the internet. (Pornography made it widely available and encouraged increases in data transfer speed) A "bloated military research budget" gave us the GPS technology that many people use in their cars. Cellular phones were the product of military research during The Cold War (at a time when unemployment was higher than it is now and the defense budget was a higher percentage of the federal budget than it is now).

      While you might have a point about the amount spent on research that you consider unnecessary, in North Korea, you would probably be imprisoned in less than humane conditions while awaiting execution if you were to gain access to the internet and publicly criticize the government's policies. It is the mission of every member of our armed services to ensure your ability to criticize our government without fear of any consequence beyond ridicule.

      The research that you criticize bears fruit in the form of better technology that is made available to our soldiers. Those soldiers are more capable of defending your freedom. Those who would take away that freedom are less likely to attack because of our advanced technology and if those who would take your freedom were to attack, are less likely of doing so successfully because of our military research budget.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:42 am | Reply
    • Pippa

      The N. Korean missile was not a failure. It was designed to be a Fishing Missile, and it successfully attacked a large school of tuna. Jeeze! Read the N. Korean press releases already!.

      April 23, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Reply
  59. Mommie Zombie

    I can see all the engineers are posting what happen could not have happen or should not have happen. Good thing there are no know-nothing dolts who like to post contrary garbage to article like this. 😉

    April 23, 2012 at 11:02 am | Reply
  60. Brian Berry(calmchessplayer)

    And at one time People thought if you went 60 MPH in a car that your face would peel off ! What engine can do mach 20 in a glider? And I thought chameleon skin was impressive ! Semper FI


    April 23, 2012 at 11:01 am | Reply
    • Rush224

      Umm....not to be a jerk or anything but since it is a glider it has no engine...

      April 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Reply
      • B

        It does have an engine, a scramjet.

        April 23, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  61. WHArts

    "DARPA said a group of independent experts decided they couldn't have predicted the problem." DUH. Did DARPA ever consider asking NASA why they use ceramic tiles for heat shields on the slower and "obsolete" space shuttle?

    April 23, 2012 at 10:59 am | Reply
    • AGeek

      DARPA is looking for the *next generation* beyond tiles. The tiles posed a problem insofar as no two were alike and continual loss/replacement was noted all throughout the lifespan of the shuttle program. But please, don't let anything like facts get into the way of a good, ignorant rant.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:20 am | Reply
      • LouAz

        Isn't this thing suppose to be a bomb ? Do you mean it is going to be a "reusable" bomb, so it shouldn't have expensive tiles that need replacement after one BOOM ?

        April 23, 2012 at 11:44 am |
      • fastbutnotsofurious

        The shuttle traveled at Mach 24.

        April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • tffl

      NASA used ceramic tiles because their hoped-for better solutions didn't work. Ceramic tiles were not what they wanted – they are way too fragile, and are part of the reason that per-launch costs and turnaround times on the shuttle were much worse than originally predicted. Dealing with that fragility in a military setting wouldn't be very practical.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:32 am | Reply
      • Nose Awl

        Let us not forget the B-2 (stealth) bomber that cost $2.1 Billion each, and now requires 60 hours of maintenance for each hour of flight time! The bomber that can't be left out in the rain! Just search "stealth bomber maintenance" for numerous stories.

        No, fragile is just fine for the military-industrial complex.

        April 23, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Alan

      Egad. DARPA is the "dance" for many research engineers. It's better than working at NASA.

      The people at DARPA are the best of the best. Of course they know about tiles. They know about a whole lot that neither one of us even have a clue about. Attempting to second guess them without some real information (knowledge) will just make you look foolish.

      Like the little leaguer trying to explain to Albert Pujols how to hit a baseball. "First, Albert, it's really important that you keep your eyes on the pitcher. Next you need to..."

      I can coach LL. I won't even think about telling Pujols how to hit a baseball. (So, how about not telling DARPA how to do research?)

      April 23, 2012 at 11:48 am | Reply
  62. LouAz

    "When that "anomaly" occurred, a safety computer slowed the glider down" ? Just what aero device could slow the aircraft down that would not be subject to the same forces that created the "anamoly" in the first place ? Duh, a computer cannot slow anything down, except electrons. Does this thing have some kind of speed brakes, or a drag chute ? At M20 ? Ha Ha Ha !!!

    April 23, 2012 at 10:57 am | Reply
    • Hugh Jass

      Wow, you don't know much about things, do you? Just assume it was "magic" if you can't understand the science.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:07 am | Reply
      • AGeek

        Right. They deployed "god" to slow it down.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:20 am |
      • LouAz

        Please Engineer Hugh . . . explain the "magic" to me.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Lokari

      It's quite simple: reduce thrust. Friction + reduced thrust = reduced velocity. Did you neglect your high school physics classes?

      April 23, 2012 at 11:21 am | Reply
      • tffl

        It was a ballistic glider – no thrust after launch. So to slow down they would need some drag mechanism.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:35 am |
      • Hmmmm...

        Ummm, how do you reduce "thrust" on a glider? The glider was sent on the back of a rocket and reentered the atmosphere as a glider (unpowered). The only way you can "slow it down" would be to modify either it's physical shape or angle to the earth. Since the skin was peeling off it likely was already doing the former; my guess is that they changed it's flight path slightly to present more surface area and slow it down.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Adam

      Hey, Look! An IDIOT! Hahahahaha. Look it up yourself, idiot. You might learn something.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:33 am | Reply
      • LouAz

        Look WHAT up ?
        Good way to show what YOU know . . . calling anyone an idiot.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Z_2k

      raising the nose up, exposing more of the underside area to the atmosphere, just as the Space Shuttle did to slow itself down upon re-enetry, would slow it down albeit at the expense of increased friction and heat. At this point, they were not trying to save it; just prevent it from hitting land. It was already 'lost' so the friction/heat were an acceptable price to pay to achieve the desired result.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:57 am | Reply
      • Rush224

        Finally!!! Someone else around here that understands what they are commenting about!!!

        April 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  63. XerXeS_2012

    DARPA AKA DUMBASSES! Wooooooo! (Rick Flair voice)

    April 23, 2012 at 10:56 am | Reply
    • dabble53

      Without DARPA (and their projects), it's highly doubtful you would have been able to even comment on this article, or any website.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:07 am | Reply
      • Snackelfish

        What a mixed blessing that'd have been.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  64. XerXeS_2012

    Come on now public! How sweet it is to watch the American Peoples Money travel @ Mach 20, then plunging into the ocean. Is there no faster way to burn our money up!?! Woooooo! (Rick Flair voice)

    April 23, 2012 at 10:55 am | Reply
    • 111Dave111

      In your world we would all be hunter gatherers, saving fire to start the next fire. even writing and speaking would be a waste of time and money.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:34 am | Reply
  65. Oscar Pitchfork

    I guess they couldn;t do wind-tunnel testing at mach 20, huh?

    April 23, 2012 at 10:54 am | Reply
    • Brian Berry(calmchessplayer)

      And at one time People thought if you went 60 MPH in a car that your face would peel off!

      April 23, 2012 at 10:59 am | Reply
  66. db

    This is a new Postal Vehicle to speed up the mail delivery.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:54 am | Reply
  67. MMiller

    This problem reminds me of Edison's trials while attempting to identify a filament that would withstand the heat produced by the electric that would eventually create the incandescent light bulb. The tests for this hypersonic technology are of course far more expensive than Edison's and there will be failures but the resulting technologies will have a dramatic impact on a variety of very practical uses in the very near future.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:50 am | Reply
    • db

      As Edison was quoted saying, he never failed at anything, he just found that certaint things did not work well.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:55 am | Reply
  68. LouAz

    It is called DARPA – Defense ADVANCED RESEARCH Project Agency. This was not a surprise . . . this was a mechanical failure of the skin. Of course they knew what the aero heating temp would be. This is Program Management CYA for we screwed up in the design, but can't say that, so it is an "anomaly". Give us more MONEY and we will design an improved or enhanced B Model, then a C Model, then a . . . Kinda like the Wright Brothers, except a LOT MORE EXPENSIVE !

    April 23, 2012 at 10:48 am | Reply
    • Paulwisc

      Yeah, you can tell us that because you're an expert in the field. Umm, no.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:55 am | Reply
      • LouAz

        No, Pauli, I'm not an Expert at anything. I was a Project Engineer with a lot of other smart Engineers on a few DARPA Programs before I retired 10 years ago.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Mommie Zombie

      It make no sense to test something with a known flaw. Unless you expect to fail in that way . Apparently this was not the case.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:58 am | Reply
      • LouAz

        Fabrication is part of design. Lots of things can be "drawn" and lots of finite element analysis can make pretty pictures for PP Presentaions, but sometime it has to be "made" out of some material, and "attached" somehow to something else.
        This superficial description says the skin came off. It was either "made" wrong, or the analysis of the forces on it was wrong. After 100 years of flight and learning how to keep the skin "on", this seems like a typical CYA "reason" for a failure – "advanced thermal modeling and ground testing could not successfully predict the harsh realities of Mach 20 atmospheric flight," the agency said.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Hugh Jass

      We should put you in charge of this because you are obviously an Expert. On the internet, EVERYBODY used to work for DARPA.

      April 23, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Reply
      • LouAz

        I did not say I worked for DARPA. I said I worked on a few DARPA Programs.
        Typical . . . kill the messenger.

        April 23, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  69. bspurloc

    Yeah it is a Reef with a Moonroof..... such bs.. 100% being retrieved as we speak

    April 23, 2012 at 10:38 am | Reply
  70. dirkK

    "The goal of the project is to create an aircraft that can fly anywhere in the world in under an hour to strike a target."

    Wouldn't it be cool to design an aircraft that can fly anywhere in the world, under an hour to deliver a donor organ, or to drop relief aid, or something cooler. I guess striking a target will have to motivate us for now.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:34 am | Reply
    • archchuzzlewit

      Unfortunately those kind of altruistic aims don't tend to attract the financial backing needed to cover this kind of R&D. There are a lot of technological advances made that were built off of, at least partly, military money.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:47 am | Reply
    • Alan S

      Yes, delivering a donor organ and saving a life would be wonderful. But taking out an Iranian or North Korean ICBM before it can launch a MIRV'ed warhead and vaporize three American cities would be more wonderul yet. And the odds are good that before too many years either North Korea or Iran will have that capability.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:57 am | Reply
    • db

      Drop Relief Aid to places like America's who are being exploited by their own current Administration as the rich and powerful continue to drive a wedge between the classes. We use to have a three class society and now we see more of a two class society, those that have it all and those that wish they had some of is.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:59 am | Reply
    • John

      The internet began as a DARPA project too. Many other modern marvels that you use began as DARPA projects.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:02 am | Reply
    • ratwaffles

      Yeah, who wouldn't want to be hit by a relief package traveling at mach 20, minus the speed it lost since it dropped from the aircraft? At least you have an interesting way of eliminating the third world while attempting to help their hungry.

      April 23, 2012 at 11:32 am | Reply
  71. Balls 2U

    makes you think all those crazy stories are not so crazy after all eh?

    April 23, 2012 at 10:24 am | Reply
  72. Balls 2U

    so many past science fiction movies and current news stories rolled past me when I read this. The possibilities are enormous . Sphere, Roswell and so on. Future man who will be recessed by war and born several generation later will discover this and other items and point to the sky and say "we are not alone"

    April 23, 2012 at 10:22 am | Reply
  73. George R. Kasica

    Interesting article – but note we've already had & retired a Mach 25 vehicle – was called the space shuttle and was reusable. However this thing perfecty illustrates the problems with hypersonic flight as did Coluimbia's destruction in 2003 on reentry. ANY type of flight path alteration outsifde what its designed for is virtually certain destruction due to the imense stresses the vehicle runs into before it can correct itself back to stable flight.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:19 am | Reply
  74. steveo

    first paul, no there's no engine. its a glider. they take it up real high (to space) and let it reenter. it falls due to weight and gravity. its basically the 2nd half of a traditional ballistic missle's kinematic travel path.
    second, if you'll notice artist's rendering, this thing looks almost exactly like the nose of an SR-71. and we sure as heck oughta know about the localized heating patterns and heat fux those guys experienced with all the flight hours they logged UNLESS, those patterns are different b/c what litle air is there behaves more like a plasma and less like a typical fluid. these engineers should know, that what they pay em for.
    last, we should be plenty worried about the iranians and the drone. not so much that they can reverse engineer actual pane but that they did break into the flight computer. alot it was talk but there were too many actual maintenance log details and specifics re flight data to think they were just blowing smoke despite what biden says. but having it is one thing, now try and build it...

    if you'll notice too,

    April 23, 2012 at 10:15 am | Reply
    • steveo2

      wrong-o steveo. They used boosters to get it to speed. It isn't simply lifted via aircraft to high altitude and dropped! Gravity alone does not produce those speeds.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:34 am | Reply
    • KTC

      Terminal velocity, dude.

      It has engines.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:51 am | Reply
      • KawiMan

        Terminal velocity only applies in the lower atmosphere.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:19 am |
      • Rush224

        The point of it being launched by a rocket is to get it in the upper atmosphere where there is less air resistance and it can maintain those speeds. I think what is remarkable about this vehicle is that it is a controllable aircraft at mach 20. People say that the shuttles were controllable at this speed, but the orbiters were flared for most of the reentry and did not become "controllable" until they were well below mach 20.

        April 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • db

      RS-71, or as LBJ called it the SR-71, was a MAC 3.5 vehicle and only once did it ever get to MAC 4.0 and that was over Lybia when their leaders indicated they would shoot down anything that ventrued past a certan line. Yes, the SR-71 entered their airspace and they launched SAM's at it. The pilot opened the engines up and it accelerated up to MAC 4.0 and out ran the SAM's and exited Lybian airspace in only minutes after completeing it's assigned mission, returning to Merry Ol'England. That was the necessary mission for the F-111 strike against Tripoli soon afterwards.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:52 am | Reply
  75. t3chsupport

    Oh man... 'unmanned'... that makes a HUGE difference from what I was thinking when I first read the headline. I thought they were trying to piece a pilot back together...

    April 23, 2012 at 10:12 am | Reply
  76. mcjny

    What kind of propellant could push a air borne vehicle to that speed? 13k mph. Are these some of the UFOs that people are reporting?

    April 23, 2012 at 10:11 am | Reply
    • latuya83

      Shooting it into space with a rocket and then letting fall back into earth's atmosphere helps.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:28 am | Reply
    • db

      Force, not propellent. The force is Gravity and Kenetic energy.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:53 am | Reply
  77. Zeke

    apparently most CNN readers can't translate "unexpected aeroshell degradation" on their own anymore.
    "probably an artificial reef with a moon roof"? nice that CNN writers are willing to speculate rather than report facts.
    Are there any online news sources that are for adults?

    April 23, 2012 at 10:08 am | Reply
    • steveo

      zeke, was humorous observation and I liked it myself. they meant the upset caused a piece of skin to be ripped off and the hole was vaguely similar to a moon roof. I'm surprised it didnt completely break up like the shuttle when it had a similar experience.

      and other reader, no propellant. it works simply on weight and gravity -no engine just bombs 🙁

      April 23, 2012 at 10:19 am | Reply
      • Zeke

        I know what he meant. My comment was referring to unprofessional reporting.

        April 23, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Zeke

      Here's a sentence from the Wall St. Journal – using a level of writing you will never see on CNN. This is reading for adults:

      Mr. Obama's speech is a follow-up to a presidential directive issued in August establishing the board, which aims to develop prevention strategies, ensure that concerns are elevated to senior officials and create a mechanism for the administration to better work with allies to respond to early warning signs from around the world and prevent potential atrocities.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:23 am | Reply
      • dmm

        Ha ha. Good one. The WSJ in 2007 won a Pulitzer for exposing backdated stock options. After it was bought by Murdoch, it's only claim to fame is the false political sliming of McDonalds. Today's WSJ is just a reskinned version of Fox News. Just look up the number of WSJ editorial staff who have left in the last couple of years.

        April 23, 2012 at 10:53 am |
      • bignevermo

        hey Fred...did ya notice that ole Zeke didnt actually answer your question/comment? at least Zeke you should have ackowledged Freds point...just sayin!

        April 23, 2012 at 11:10 am |
      • 111Dave111

        I think they were trying to write it so the Fox viewers wouldn't be able to read it, and complain since it is faily objective,

        April 23, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Fred Evil

      You are in the BLOGS section on CNN, and complaining about the professionalism of the writing?
      You have NOTHING better to do?

      April 23, 2012 at 10:32 am | Reply
      • Zeke

        you replied to my comment... you have nothing better to do either?

        April 23, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • hoo

      Let me help you, zeke. Remove 'unexpected' from your quote and you have your answer. I'm sure most readers understood.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:33 am | Reply
  78. Joe Mamma

    My wifes mouth is faster

    April 23, 2012 at 9:59 am | Reply
    • NachoMan

      Her top peels off faster too.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:35 am | Reply
    • db

      Why would you reference something a sensual to something like this? A Womans mouth is her ability to direct, move, stimulate, communicate, and caress you with oral tones to convince you that you want to do what she really wants you to do.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:40 am | Reply
  79. steveo

    amazing technology.......sadly devoted to killing people and bombing somewhere we havent in the last 72 hours. whoever thinks war is a statement of success is delusional; its an admission of failure (as in afghanistan, iraq, etc, etc. thanks bush you dip wad. and all of the military spending ad nauseum has nothing to do with how deep a budget hole we're in either.
    from an engineering viewpoint, that those speeds only produce a skin temp of 3500F is amazing. we're not that far off when it comes to skin material but 2 other huge matters remain; one, any type of control surface which disrupts the boundary layer surrounding the craft is going to experience even higher temps due to the friction from the drag and will require specialized design I dont think we know how to do yet and two, the add'l weight associated with carrying what ever munition this basically hypersonic V-2 buzz bomb is carrying so completely changes the basics of its design that it'll take years more to be successful than if we were designing it simply for lighter, non bomb laden, payloads.

    April 23, 2012 at 9:58 am | Reply
    • davidabarak

      You're smarter than us and wiser than us. Thanks for letting us know.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:07 am | Reply
    • Colinmb

      Please don't include the fact that advancements in military technology ultimately make their way to civilian products and since most companies do not have the resources to create these advancements without military funding, they'd never exist.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:07 am | Reply
      • Darth Cheney

        As if no more benign (or cheaper) method for developing said technologies exists...

        April 23, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • james

      You beat me to it- I totally agree. When the primary goal of technology is to make war it just makes me roll my eyes.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:11 am | Reply
      • Really?

        Um, the internet? GPS? A lot of the advanced technologies we have are based off old DARPA (or other military service's) projects.

        April 23, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • ncp

      Amazing technology that was mostly developed 40-50 years ago...

      April 23, 2012 at 10:22 am | Reply
    • db

      Actually it does not have moveable control surfaces at all, like a conventional aircraft. Instead it uses thrusters on the aft side of the body set at 90 degrees to the flight path which readjusts the pitch and roll by pushing the vehicle. This system was also used by the shuttle in space where there is no atmosphere to work against to adjust pitch and roll requirements.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:45 am | Reply
    • sbp

      Isn't control surface issue why rockets use thrusters for directionality?

      April 23, 2012 at 10:50 am | Reply
    • JeramieH

      > I dont think we know how to do yet

      Is your aerospace degree from DeVry?

      April 23, 2012 at 10:51 am | Reply
      • Cajunman

        Devry....that was funny lmao

        April 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  80. crabman

    fine them for pollution

    April 23, 2012 at 9:57 am | Reply
  81. misdirection

    A classic US military strategy used in pretty much every secret project in its history. They float their idea for a technology around the big players in the industry. Get the best basic design and then claim the technology is a failure. Then ten years later the final product is revealed or discovered on a classified mission.

    April 23, 2012 at 9:55 am | Reply
    • hoo

      Would it be better if they just announced exactly what they were researching and building?

      April 23, 2012 at 10:29 am | Reply
    • bspurloc

      sounds like foxfacts to me... no where is it mentioned as a failure. FYI initial test flights arent expected to succeed 100%....

      April 23, 2012 at 10:40 am | Reply
  82. paul232

    Why are they calling it a glider...doesnt it have an engine?

    April 23, 2012 at 9:44 am | Reply
    • Cedar Rapids

      its a glider in the same way the space shuttle was a glider, it lands 'unpowered'

      April 23, 2012 at 10:07 am | Reply
  83. Hahahahahahaha

    Next we'll hear of the Iranians bringing it down with their "reverse engineering" ability (er....I mean Russian ability). Hahahahahahahaha

    April 23, 2012 at 9:03 am | Reply
    • hoo

      It was an inside job.

      April 23, 2012 at 10:28 am | Reply
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