The military's latest test of the fastest aircraft ever built ended Thursday with the hypersonic vehicle crashing into the Pacific Ocean, although officials said they were able to gather "unique data" that will guide the development effort.
The Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 was launched aboard a rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Los Angeles, early Thursday. The launch vehicle was able to push the Falcon into the desired trajectory.
At that point, and after collecting nine minutes of data, the signal to the Falcon was lost, and it apparently crashed into the ocean. A statement from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is developing the aircraft, said the launching, separation and initial trajectory achieved by the vehicle could be viewed as important successes, despite the modest flight time
The goal is an aircraft that can fly at 13,000 mph - enduring temperatures in excess of 3,500 degrees - and is able to hit targets anywhere in the world in under an hour.