Suspected US hypersonic missile test launch from Cape Canaveral scrubbed

Hypersonic missiles can change course to avoid detection and anti-missile defenses.
Hypersonic missiles can change course to avoid detection and anti-missile defenses. (Image credit: U.S. Air Force)

The U.S. Department of Defense scrubbed a test launch of an undisclosed missile out of Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station earlier this month.

Airspace closure warnings issued by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) indicated launch activity scheduled for between March 2 and March 6, generating interest and speculation in the event, Florida Today reported.

Marco Langbroek, a lecturer in optical space situational awareness at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, noted that the navigational warning drew a "forked" flight path over the north Atlantic, indicating that the mission was not a typical orbital launch activity but more likely a hypersonic missile test.

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While gaining attention, however, the test did not take place. The Office of the Secretary of Defense informed Florida Today that, "as a result of pre-flight checks, the test did not occur."

"Delivering hypersonic weapons remains a top priority for the Department of Defense," the statement continued. 

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The nature of the system to be tested was not disclosed, but apparent clues emerged on Twitter. The U.S. has been stepping up efforts to develop hypersonic weapons in the wake of apparent progress by both Russia and China in this field.

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Andrew Jones
Contributing Writer

Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI.