Gallery: DARPA's Falcon Hypersonic Glider's Mach 20 Launch Test

DARPA's HTV-2 Hypersonic Prototype in Flight

DARPA

An artist's illustration of DARPA's Hypersonic Test Vehicle-2 flying at speeds of Mach 20.

Falcon Hypersonic HTV-2 Payload Fairing Jettisoned

DARPA

The Falcon hypersonic HTV-2 aircraft emerges from its payload fairing before gliding back to Earth.

Falcon Hypersonic HTV-2 Gliding

DARPA

The Falcon hypersonic HTV-2 is an unmanned, rocket-launched, maneuverable aircraft that glides through the Earth’s atmosphere at incredibly fast speeds.

Meet DARPA's Hypersonic Glider

DARPA artist's concept

The DARPA Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV)-2 is a prototype that launches on a rocket, reaches suborbital space and then re-enters Earth's atmosphere at speeds of about Mach 20. The vehicle is part of DARPA's Global Strike test program to check technologies for a global bomber.

Falcon Hypersonic HTV-2 Flight Overview

DARPA

This diagram details the sequence of events of the hypersonic Falcon HTV-2 flight.

Minotaur 4 Launch on August 11, 2011

U.S. Air Force/Dan Liberotti

Team Vandenberg launched a Minotaur 4 from Space Launch Complex-8 here at 7:45 a.m. Aug. 11, 2011.

HTV-2 Hypersonic Aircraft Design Concepts

DARPA

This DARPA series of images shows the progression of the HTV-2 hypersonic aircraft from computer modeling (left) to wind tunnel tests to a final design for testing. The Falcon HTV-2 vehicle is designed to fly up to Mach 20 in a test for DARPA's global strike program.

Minotaur 4 Prepares to Launch Hypersonic HTV-2 Aircraft

U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Scottie McCord

A Minotaur 4 rocket stands beside Space Launch Complex-8 here Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011. The Minotaur 4 will carry DARPA's hypersonic HTV-2 aircraft scheduled to launch from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base in August 2011.

Minotaur 4 with Hypersonic HTV-2 Aircraft Payload

U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Scottie McCord

A Minotaur 4 rocket sits on its launch pedestal here Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011. The Minotaur 4 will carry DARPA's hypersonic HTV-2 aircraft scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in August 2011.

U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Scottie McCord

Members from the 30th Launch Group, 1st Air and Space Test Squadron, Orbital Sciences Corporation, Space Port Systems International, Space Development and Test Directorate, Space and Missile Center and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency pose in front of a Minotaur 4 rocket at Space Launch Complex-8. The Minotaur 4 will carry DARPA's hypersonic HTV-2 aircraft scheduled to launch from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base in August 2011.

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at community@space.com.