Inside the Air Force's 13,000-MPH Hypersonic Plane

An unmanned aircraft that can travel at a breakneck pace 20 times the speed of sound will take off Wednesday from an Air Force base in California for a test flight.

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    Falcon HTV-2 Hypersonic Plane Deploys

    The second flight of the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2, developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is scheduled to launch Wednesday aboard a Minotaur IV Lite rocket.
    DARPA
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    Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV)-2

    The early morning launch is the second flight of the 13,000-mph HTV-2 test vehicle, in a test series designed to validate technologies that will enable high-performance, long-duration, and maneuverable hypersonic flight, the military agency said.
    DARPA
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    Falcon HTV-2 Hypersonic Plane Flight Overview

    An overview of the planned test flight for the HTV-2 vehicle shows the various phases it goes through on its flight. 
    DARPA
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    Falcon HTV-2 Hypersonic Plane Illustration

    The HTV-2, seen here in an illustration by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, launches atop an Orbital Sciences Corp. Minotaur IV rocket, which uses decommissioned Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missile motors.
    DARPA
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    Falcon HTV-2 Hypersonic Plane

    The goal of the project is to eventually enable the U.S. military to strike anywhere in the world in less than an hour.
    DARPA
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    DARPA_Falcon_Concept

    This conceptual image shows DARPA's vision of a hypersonic glider, a cancelled version of the vehicle known as the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 3X.
    DARPA
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    Falcon HTV-2 Hypersonic Plane HTV -3X

    The HTV-3X, a somewhat different vision of hypersonic travel from the Defense Advanced Projects agency. 
    DARPA
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    Falcon HTV-2 Hypersonic Plane Progression 2008

    A 2008 presentation by DARPA mapped out the agency's goals for hypersonic flight, including the various "Falcon vehicles": the HTV-2, a next-generation version named the HTV-3X, and the ultimate goal.
    DARPA
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