back to article DARPA: Hypersonic strato-ship crackup was no biggie

Radical Pentagon boffins say they now understand why their hypersonic aeroplane/missile prototype, the Falcon HTV-2, cracked up in flight above the Pacific in April - and say they are on course for another trial flight next year. DARPA concept of the HTV-2 manoeuvring in the upper atmosphere. Talk about a hot ship Regular …


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  1. Paul_Murphy

    Nevermind all that..

    wheres my space-elevator?


  2. Mike Shepherd
    IT Angle

    Why, oh why do the wrong people....

    But what's it for? Travel is is sooo 20th century.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    That's how nutty DARPA is

    Thanks for clearing that up.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up



  5. Disco-Legend-Zeke
    Thumb Up

    For Those Of You...

    ...keeping score at home:

    PARIS -- 1

    HTV-2 -- 0

  6. Annihilator


    "Detailed analysis conducted by the [review board] revealed that the most probable cause of the HTV-2 flight anomaly was higher-than-predicted yaw, which coupled into roll thus exceeding the available control capability at the time of the anomaly. The analysis concluded that knowledge of several key aerodynamic parameters in this flight regime was limited."

    Or to paraphrase:


    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Beautifully succint !

      Now THAT's what I call an "executive summary". Well done.

    2. Captain DaFt

      A bit longer paraphrase

      "revealed that the most probable cause of the HTV-2 flight anomaly was higher-than-predicted yaw"and "Engineers will adjust the vehicle’s center of gravity, decrease the angle of attack flown"

      Says to me: "Things that are wide on one end and taper to a point on the other, with a center of gravity toward the wide end, tend to flip over and travel butt end first when thrown.

      We think we can fix that by putting more weight in the nose, and throwing it straighter next time."

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Next time..

    the might want to release it so that the impact site is somewhere more useful..

  8. King Edward I

    This is not the title you are looking for.

    I may not always see eye-to-eye with Mr. Page on military articals, but when it comes to describing the sheer craziness of DARPA, you win one thousand internets, and I will gladly buy you this beerin exchange just for the amusment you give me with these articals!

  9. James Hughes 1

    So, what you are saying.

    Is that they are really quite nutty?

    1. Gavin King

      Surely Not

      What I got was that he reckons they were a little off centre.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Then again

    If there's been no mishaps, I wouldn't trust the result. Burt Rutan has a definite point with his "if we're not killing people, we're not pushing hard enough". Though if we can have remotely operated drones take the fall instead most of the time, that's pretty good too.

  11. publius

    Hmmmm. How did the Russians do this

    with their Buran shuttle, which was remotely piloted? It must have been autonomously controlled during atmospheric reentry, since all that plasma gets in the way of the radio waves. Or did they stash a well-trained chimp on board?

    Lewis' nuts-in-hyperspace description must have been inspired by a pint or two.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      The Buran flight

      was fully automated from liftoff to touchdown - a great technological achievement at the time. The problem DARPA is trying to crack here is not autonomous control during re-entry but any sort of control at re-entry velocities. The Shuttle and Buran may have been splaceplanes but their mode of re-entry was fundamentally ballistic - bottom (heatshield) first. As far as I understand it this thing is designed to actually fly into the atmosphere the way God and Captain Kirk meant it to be.

      Paris because I said 're-enty'.

    2. Lars

      Hmmmm. did they do it


  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Part of DARPA's brief is to go *looking* for trouble.

    The trick is to make sure you capture enough data to stop it *next* time and enough funding and nerve to *have* a next time.

    Obviously on board auto pilots and telemetry systems are light years from the days when it had to be big enough for a meat sack.

    A less appreciated fact about Edwards AFB was that throughout the 1950's roughly 1 test pilot a year died on the job.

    But they nearly always told the next man how the last man died.

    I'm no hypersonic enthusiastic but this is how *real* engineering research gets done. You test and simulate as much as possible but at some point you have to build the thing and see what *really* happens.

    Thumbs up for the approach if not the objective. I hope they will fly again.

  13. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "one might postulate a gigantic accreted body of nuts"

    Full marks for the wonderful description of nuttiness. I dare say, I sincerely doubt anyone could capture the sub-aetheric aroma of DARPA madness better than Mr. Page.

    Just for the pleasure, I reproduce the best part here :

    "DARPA is more than just proverbially nutty - mere fruitcakes or even the maximum possible amount of nut containable in a three-dimensional space using powerful squashing machinery do not do justice to the federal warboffinry outfit.

    Perhaps one might postulate a gigantic accreted body of nuts many times more massive than our entire solar system floating in space, which would naturally collapse under its own gravity in a cataclysmic snack-based supernova and leave behind a ultradense neutron star made up of collapsed matter originating entirely from nuts. That's how nutty DARPA is."

    I hereby propose that DARPA be christened "an ultradense nutty star".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      imagine all the titles, lalala

      Somehow i am now thinking of what might happen when this star collapses even further. Peanut butter based black holes! *drool*

  14. Anonymous Coward

    In Other News, American Gear Fails

    F35 has major reliability problems, cost raises by 100%. F-22 lost w/o trace in Alaska: will do translation

    What would Mista Lewis say if it happened with the EFA, the A400M or the A330 MRTT ? Certainly the fault of Euro-communists who suffer babylonic language confusion and disease-of-comittees.

    It seems that European engineers aren't so bad, recently. EFA already has much better reliability statistics than the F-22.

  15. Robert Heffernan


    It was definitely autonomously controlled during re-entry and landing, although I heard a story that apparently the Russians were rather dissapointed with the landing, as it landed a meter off the center line of the runway.

    The Shuttle didn't get a crew-less autonomous flight capability until after the Colombia incident, and even someone needs to run a cable from the General Purpose Computers up the back, to the flight computer up the front on the flight deck, so the GPC can do the flying.

  16. Mr Young
    Thumb Up

    Boffin word and Bigwig word in same article?

    This gets better by the second. hehe.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Everybody who knows F=m*a and W=1/2*m*v^2 is nowadays called a "Boffin" in the British Officer Corps.

      I guess Horatio Nelson would qualify, also. If he lived today with the knowledge he had then.

  17. ShaggyDoggy


    Barnes Wallis invented (ok - suggested) back then, planes that travelled inverted at 120,000 feet and 6,000 mph

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Nelson's Grammar School

    It seems that at least the Physics Course on that Grammar School is somewhat competitve:

    But the "ICT" course is definitely not on par with a German Gymnasium:

    By the time I was a pupil in a certain Gymnasium in Tübingen, we did PASCAL and I had to do a project. I tried to get an "optimized" version of a Planet Simulation running, but couldn't deliver.

    But I certainly was able to implement "basic" physical simulations like a pendulum oscillating in PASCAL. In Paston they do an "advanced spreadsheet". I guess faculty deeply hates computers.

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