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DARPA Hypersonic Vehicle Splash Down Confirmed

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 years ago | from the you-win-this-time-robotnik dept.

The Military 140

dtmos writes "DARPA has announced that its Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 flight on Thursday, 11 August, 'experienced a flight anomaly post perigee and into the vehicle's climb. The anomaly prompted the vehicle's autonomous flight safety system to use the craft's aerodynamic systems to make a controlled descent and splash down into the ocean.' 'According to a preliminary review of the data collected prior to the anomaly encountered by the HTV-2 during its second test flight,' said DARPA Director Regina Dugan, 'HTV-2 demonstrated stable aerodynamically controlled Mach 20 hypersonic flight for approximately three minutes. It appears that the engineering changes put into place following the vehicle's first flight test in April 2010 were effective. We do not yet know the cause of the anomaly for Flight 2.'"

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meanwhile... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37136468)

We are many trillions in debt, people are without jobs, living in the streets, our bridges are falling apart, our infrastructure is that of a 3rd world country, the economy is tanking... but oh, we've ALWAYS got money enough for the military.

Maybe we need to stop spending money on this crap that doesn't even work.

Re:meanwhile... (0)

adam.dorsey (957024) | about 3 years ago | (#37136550)

But that's SOCIALISM!

Re:meanwhile... (1)

lexsird (1208192) | about 3 years ago | (#37137642)

Hysterical hyperbole never helps.

Divisive American politics will be the undoing of us all. We need research to keep us in the running. Or have you noticed, we shut down our Space Program and are hitching rides with the Russians to space? I am frankly embarrassed at where we are.

Let's look at what we have done. We are in wars with people that classically never give up, a literal quagmire like we got into in the Viet Nam era. What we did learn from Viet Nam was it was a great way to fund the war machine, and war profiteers. Terrorism is the perfect boogieman, you can scare the people with it into giving up anything, and you never have a "foe" that you defeat and end your precious war.

Don't think so? We have thug cops feeling up children and grandmothers for weapons in our Airports.

Our dollar is so inflated its sickening. How do I know? Check out gold prices. It's not that gold is going up in value, its the dollar dropping in value, and this causes a panic which places gold in more of a demand. Watch how this spirals out of control.

Now screaming "Socialism" because the rich need to pony up their fair share of taxes is the hallmark of a brainwashed lackey of the uber rich. Much worse are the trade polices that gut the American industries, forcing them to move production overseas to compete. Second is labor unions that gouge the manufacturer and put them out of the running due to previously mentioned trade policies. Thirdly are insane regulatory mandates piled up from decades of bureaucracy, that strangle American industry.

We need FAIR trade policies, not Free Trade policies. Free Trade is an oxymoron. These are two words that should NOT be put together. Trade is war, trade must be handled like a hostage negotiation. Trade is the only way our federal government was suppose to be able to raise money according to our founding fathers. Tariffs were what they were suppose to be funded from. Enter a World War to give us our current tax scheme. This Income Tax was never properly ratified as a Constitutional amendment if anyone is interested or cares, making it a dinosaur sized elephant in the room we have all been ignoring for decades.

We need unions to have a fair voice, but not the ability to extort their host business. We need regulations that make good green sense, but are workable and don't gut industry.

Let me bring this to a conclusion to prove relevance to the topic.

It's going to suck big time that we do research like this, but if we don't have our industry, who's going to build things resulting from our research? Who's going to build things HERE, hence we the public get paid back in the form of taxes gained, jobs gained and the benefits of said research? We need research and to never stop it, but we also need to tend to all the other mechanics of the nation.

Re:meanwhile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37136558)

Here's a solution to the poor and homeless. Donate all your spare guns to them.

Re:meanwhile... (1)

Genda (560240) | about 3 years ago | (#37137174)

By all means, and while you're waiting for the distribution to proceed, please enjoy this complementary bulls-eye t-shirt, its the height of fashion!

Re:meanwhile... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37136600)

It's pretty obvious you have never been to a 3rd world country.

That said, I agree with you on military spending.

Re:meanwhile... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37136610)

You're right! We should absolutely stop funding innovation and new technologies! What the hell have scientific advances ever done for us?

Re:meanwhile... (1)

TedTschopp (244839) | about 3 years ago | (#37136690)

You are right, fire sucks!

Re:meanwhile... (2)

nschubach (922175) | about 3 years ago | (#37137796)

Oh man.. fire was made to cook meat, people are made of meat... therefore fire was made to cook people! Obviously we need regulation on this fire so that someone doesn't use it to cook people!

Re:meanwhile... (3, Interesting)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about 3 years ago | (#37136668)

If it makes you feel any better, there's an investigation pending for Darpa surrounding this (and presumably other) contracts. I guess the woman that heads up the agency is in bed with one of their major outside contractors, RedX. Better details here... http://articles.latimes.com/2011/aug/16/nation/la-na-defense-contracts-20110817 [latimes.com]

Re:meanwhile... (4, Insightful)

poity (465672) | about 3 years ago | (#37136772)

DARPA projects are all done/made in the USA. If anything, it contributes to the economy rather than drain from it. Besides, investing in advanced research is like investing in education, the short term payoff is low, but long term payoff has the potential to be great -- this military version goes mach 20 and does one or two specific tasks, but imagine 15 years from now commercial planes going at a third of that speed, and all built in the USA. Would you complain about that?

Re:meanwhile... (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 3 years ago | (#37137518)

This is only true if the money taken would not have been put to more useful purposes had it not been taken. You can't say if it would have been or not, but you're told to trust the 'superhuman dictator' to make better decisions than everybody else.

Re:meanwhile... (1)

slashqwerty (1099091) | about 3 years ago | (#37137696)

This is only true if the money taken would not have been put to more useful purposes had it not been taken. You can't say if it would have been or not, but you're told to trust the 'superhuman dictator' to make better decisions than everybody else.

You can certainly look at the portion of our resources that leave the country. Based on that you can come up with a pretty good estimate of how much would have been spend in the US versus outside the US.

Also, if people simply had a bunch more money what would really happen is inflation. Take a look at the housing bubble. Large low-interest loans were easy to get so people were willing to pay more for housing. Now that loans are harder to get the price of housing is dropping. Similarly, someone with a bunch more money won't think much of paying $30 where they would have previously hesitated to pay $20.

Re:meanwhile... (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 3 years ago | (#37137774)

You can certainly look at the portion of our resources that leave the country. Based on that you can come up with a pretty good estimate of how much would have been spend in the US versus outside the US.

Right, if it's spent on commodities that's true, but what if it's spend on developing new businesses or products; an inventor in his garage that can afford that extra part he really needed, etc. This is all 'the unseen' that is prevented from occurring.

Also, if people simply had a bunch more money what would really happen is inflation. Take a look at the housing bubble. Large low-interest loans were easy to get so people were willing to pay more for housing. Now that loans are harder to get the price of housing is dropping.

Agreed, artificially fixing interest rates is a really bad idea.

Similarly, someone with a bunch more money won't think much of paying $30 where they would have previously hesitated to pay $20.

Quite so, but I'm not making the connection back to DARPA here.

Re:meanwhile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137574)

investing in advanced research is like investing in education,

Sorry, but investing in education does not equal to throwing away billions and let it splashed into the ocean just like that.

Re:meanwhile... (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 years ago | (#37138118)

Yes it does.

Every year a percentage of students fails at being educated. It amounts to billions wasted on students who would be better served learning to dig ditches.

Re:meanwhile... (1)

giorgist (1208992) | about 3 years ago | (#37139448)

Sure thing, isn't it great that the US has release the F117 technology from 1981 ... that's twice 15 years exactly if I can count

Re:meanwhile... (1, Insightful)

nshelly (2441120) | about 3 years ago | (#37136810)

Why invest in R&D or basic sciences at all, when there are more immediate "needs" like nationalized healthcare, medicare or more unemployment pay? Technology and R&D investment is not just a spigot a country can "turn off" and then "turn on" in a few years. The same is true with investment toward space programs. The country benefits in the long run from advanced defense technology and private sector innovation/spillover, such as the internet and potentially the autonomous vehicle. And failure should be expected when your experimenting with futuristic research if we can learn from the mistakes, as cliche as it sounds. True, DARPA could be better managed, but so could Google. You probably wouldn't have a medium to complain about this if it weren't for the DARPA Internet Program of the 1970s, also during a period of high unemployment, high inflation and Cold War uncertainty.

Re:meanwhile... (1)

cavreader (1903280) | about 3 years ago | (#37137266)

"Technology and R&D investment" is a miniscule portion of the overall government budget. But if we want to balance things out and reduce the complaints about using tax payer money for projects that provide no short term returns we can eliminate all foreign aid funding, which by the way is also an insignificant amount of money when compared against the entire government expenditures but it is enough to provide the money to fund R&D projects. Even though foreign aid is a small amount it should be the first step in reducing the debt and would also be a very popular decision for average US citizens.

Re:meanwhile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137284)

Why invest in R&D or basic sciences at all, when there are more immediate "needs" like nationalized healthcare

There's plenty of healthcare. Just walk into any hospital and state that you are on the "undocumented worker" plan.

Re:meanwhile... (-1, Offtopic)

lexsird (1208192) | about 3 years ago | (#37137306)

Mod points were obviously spent by some ignoramus who scanned the first line.

 

Re:meanwhile... (0)

Ihmhi (1206036) | about 3 years ago | (#37139536)

Putting it into RTS terms, what your advocating is building up large swarms of troops, wait until you've got the maximum (meaning loads of resources collected and lots of supply buildings built), and then upgrade them. The better strategy is to upgrade them while you build them.

Look, as much as we need stuff like socialized health care (and better social programs in general), it's not going to help us in any way to stop or slow down doing R&D. We have more than enough money to get it all done - it'd be better to spend effort on trying to fight waste and pork spending rather than something that produces something incredibly useful for us in the long run. The reason we're in this mess is that we don't do shit that pans out in the long run - we want results, and we want them NOW.

Re:meanwhile... (4, Interesting)

wygit (696674) | about 3 years ago | (#37136826)

I think you might be a touch confused about the meaning of the word "research".

If the crap was working, we wouldn't need to spend money on figuring out how to make it work.

I agree we need to re-prioritize our spending, but I would much rather see us cutting things like the billions we give to the oil companies, or maybe if we're going to have medicare pay for prescriptions, we do like every other industrialized country in the world and negotiate with the pharma companies, instead of just giving them whatever they want to charge like we do.

it was global warming research (1)

decora (1710862) | about 3 years ago | (#37136882)

dont tell me you are a global warming denier!

Re:meanwhile... (4, Insightful)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about 3 years ago | (#37136888)

Maybe we need to stop spending money on this crap that doesn't even work.

Like the two $500 Billion "economic stimulus" packages, working on "shovel ready" projects that "haa haa" didn't actually exist, where they spent over $280,000 for each job created or saved. They're planning for another round, even bigger this time! Or the unconstitutional Obamacare, whose costs are increasing rapidly, and they are discovering that it will supply even worse care than was originally stated, even before any major part is actually implemented.

Re:meanwhile... (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 3 years ago | (#37138478)

where they spent over $280,000 for each job created or saved.

I don't know why people find this surprising. Obviously you can't build a road for just the cost of labor, teachers need classrooms to teach in, etc. Of course the rest of that money still goes to pay somebody, such as whoever sells construction supplies or maintains the classroom, but you aren't counting that, simply to make the numbers look worse.

As for the shovel-ready projects that weren't actually ready, that portion of the stimulus was never spent [cnsnews.com] , so that should make you feel a little better.

As for healthcare, private and public healthcare in the US are in exactly the same mess, which is that we simply refuse to make any rational cost/benefit decisions about healthcare, and over-treat everybody, even lost causes.

Re:meanwhile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37138566)

while we're on fantasies, maybe you can find a different station to parrot. My *god* slashdot has become a wingnut echochamber lately...

Re:meanwhile... (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | about 3 years ago | (#37139534)

Mpls/St.Paul got their entire freeway fixed because of that program. A full 10+ miles of 94 between downtowns was ripped up and re-paved, and many of the bridges along it fixed. Even longer stretches outside the cities were fixed/impoved as well.

I dont care if it worked out to $280k a person, the 6" gravel gap between concrete lanes that formed over the years is gone. The 4 inch deep 6 foot long potholes that made the highway feel like a warzone are gone. The dangerous on-ramps now have their own merge lanes.

Just because your local politicians fucked things up or refused the money, doesn't mean the entire program was a failure.

They should have used larger billboards along the way, then more people would have noticed. I was proud to know that the money was spend on this, instead of building another road in Baghdad. MnDOT had wanted to do this for years, but never had the budget.

Re:meanwhile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37139242)

Don't feed this troll...

unending genocidal holycost losses mounting (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37136522)

it's clearly an unproven mess, evidenced by the apparent need for even more deceptive distracting sideshow style theatrics by our rulers & the chosen ones' miniontic neogods arrogance.

should it not be considered that the domestic threats to all of us/our
freedoms perpetrated by unsavory megalomaniacs be intervened on/removed, so we wouldn't be compelled to hide our
sentiments, &/or the truth, about ANYTHING, including the origins of the
hymenology council, & their sacred mission? with nothing left to hide,
there'd be room for so much more genuine quantifiable progress?

you call this 'weather'? much of our land masses/planet are going under
water, or burning up, as we fail to consider anything at all that really
matters, as we've been instructed that we must maintain our silence (our
last valid right?), to continue our 'safety' from... mounting terror.

meanwhile, back at the raunch; there are exceptions? the unmentionable
sociopath weapons peddlers are thriving in these times of worldwide
sufferance? the royals? our self appointed murderous neogod rulers? all
better than ok, thank..... us. their stipends/egos/disguises are secure,
so we'll all be ok/not killed by mistaken changes in the MANufactured
'weather', or being one of the unchosen 'too many' of us, etc...?

truth telling & disarming are the only mathematically & spiritually
correct options. read the teepeeleaks etchings. see you there?

diaperleaks group worldwide.

ahab the arab's 'funniest' home vdo; http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=0bb_1312569503

Re:unending genocidal holycost losses mounting (3, Insightful)

webmistressrachel (903577) | about 3 years ago | (#37136590)

Insightful, but written in such a bad style and with such crap grammar you're going to get modded troll.

Shame, there's some good points in there.

Re:unending genocidal holycost losses mounting (0)

Surt (22457) | about 3 years ago | (#37136632)

I'm fascinated by the notion of the hymenology council myself.

Re:unending genocidal holycost losses mounting (2)

webmistressrachel (903577) | about 3 years ago | (#37136654)

Yes, I saw that, and wondered - do they verify virgin status and hold meetings and take votes about them? Do I need my hymen intact to be a member?

I might as well not apply...

Re:unending genocidal holycost losses mounting (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37136846)

Do you still have your ass-hymen, or is that one fucked out too?

Re:unending genocidal holycost losses mounting (1)

webmistressrachel (903577) | about 3 years ago | (#37137648)

Why, how much is your average ass-hymen worth in hymenology circles lately? Are you buying? If not, why the interest? Are you saying you want my ass? AC, you've been stalking me for a long time, but I had no idea you felt that way. I can be reached at

Troll too far, methinks...

North Korea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37136650)

North Korea must be going ", " (oh shit!) about right now.

The cause of the anomaly (2)

overshoot (39700) | about 3 years ago | (#37136670)

It detected something out on one wing.

Re:The cause of the anomaly (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | about 3 years ago | (#37137632)

Its the Geese. They're still pissed over Flight 1549.

Re:The cause of the anomaly (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 3 years ago | (#37138046)

It detected something out on one wing.

I don't know if it's funny or sad that, after reading your post, I first thought of the Futurama spoof rather than the Twilight Zone episode.

"There's something out on the wing! You've got to believe me!"

"Why should we believe you? You're Hitler!"

Science and Research (5, Insightful)

TedTschopp (244839) | about 3 years ago | (#37136680)

This is how science moves forward. You make a mistake, you think about it, you engineer a solution and then see how badly it blows up. Granted that is over simplified, but without mistakes, missteps, and anomalies we don't move technology forward. Many of the problems we face as a society will not be solved by buying a solution from the local supermarket, they will be solved by a crazy person who believes that the future can be better and has the resources to "waste" working the bugs out of his crazy vision. Its been that way from the dawn of time, and it will be that way 10,000 years from now.

Re:Science and Research (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37136708)

Don't be absurd. Obviously if it doesn't work flawlessly right out of the gate then it is a hopeless boondoggle that only serves as proof that everyone involved is conspiring to waste taxpayer money on things that can't ever possibly work.

Re:Science and Research (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 3 years ago | (#37136776)

Many of the problems we face as a society will not be solved by buying a solution from the local supermarket

Oh, don't I know it! The hypersonic jet I bought from H.E.B. didn't even make it off the ground!

Re:Science and Research (1)

aquabat (724032) | about 3 years ago | (#37136904)

Many of the problems we face as a society will not be solved by buying a solution from the local supermarket, they will be solved by a crazy person who believes that the future can be better and has the resources to "waste" working the bugs out of his crazy vision

Dr. Evil, is that you?

Re:Science and Research (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 3 years ago | (#37137658)

"Just a heads up, we're gonna have a super conductor turned up full blast and pointed at you for the duration of this next test. I'll be honest, we're throwing science at the walls here to see what sticks. No idea what it'll do."

  -Cave Johnson

Re:Science and Research (2)

sgtrock (191182) | about 3 years ago | (#37138068)

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it) but 'That's funny...'

Isaac Asimov

No, engineering (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about 3 years ago | (#37138858)

This is how science moves forward.

No, this is how engineering moves forward if you have enough money. In the 1940s and 1950s, a huge number of experimental aircraft and rockets were built. Some worked, some didn't, and some went through a large number of prototypes before they worked. There were terrible problems getting early jet fighters to work right. A lot of test pilots died. Even the successful military planes weren't that safe; in the 1950s, a Navy pilot had about a 1 in 5 chance of dying in a crash, without help from the enemy.

In the early days of rocketry, a huge number of rockets were launched unsuccessfully. About 600 V-2 rocket launches were attempted in the R&D phase, before they were able to hit London. ICBM development in the US and USSR had dozens of launch failures. Frequent launches were expensive, but projects were completed faster.

Re:Science and Research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37139196)

10,000 years from now we will be ruled by the Honored Matres and there will be no need to think anymore. Yay!

Oops.

it crashed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37136712)

i can't tell

Re:it crashed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37136726)

fuck your couch

Fuel spill? (1)

jasno (124830) | about 3 years ago | (#37136794)

Any idea what the propellant was, and how much it was carrying? Probably not related, but for the last two days a mysterious jet-fuel like odor has been wafting around San Diego county.

Re:Fuel spill? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37136892)

A) This was thousands of km out in the Pacific [wikipedia.org]
B) It didn't have any propulsion. Just a few reaction control jets, almost certainly not powered by jet fuel (it's basically a very high speed glider, like the Shuttle on reentry)

There's no connection.

Re:Fuel spill? (1)

afidel (530433) | about 3 years ago | (#37137014)

Interesting, I know one of the big scramjet problems is skin heating, the plans I have seen call for using the fuel as a heatsink. Perhaps for this experiment they used something with similar heat carrying capabilities to stand in for the fuel.

Re:Fuel spill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37136918)

The propellant was it being released from a rocket, and gravity.

Re:Fuel spill? (1)

subreality (157447) | about 3 years ago | (#37137220)

There's a small amount of fuel on board for the RCS, probably hydrazine. The OP wouldn't smell it because it's a tiny amount, a long way offshore, and it wasn't released (the vehicle made a controlled splashdown, so it did not break up).

Re:Fuel spill? (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 3 years ago | (#37138426)

Probably not related, but for the last two days a mysterious jet-fuel like odor has been wafting around San Diego county.

Has Taco Bell changed their recipe.

Don't believe it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37136838)

That thing CAN'T fly. It is an anomoly in and of itself. Flight involves much more than a few well photoshopped images.

Re:Don't believe it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137102)

"That wasn't flying, that was falling with style!"

wow (3, Interesting)

aquabat (724032) | about 3 years ago | (#37136862)

Holy fuck! Mach 20? I scan slashdot regularly, but I somehow missed this story developing. I think the really cool thing about this is how the onboard systems allowed it to make a controlled splashdown. I bet no pilot in the world could deadstick a landing like that from that kind of speed. This is probably the beginning of the end for the fighter pilots.

Re:wow (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | about 3 years ago | (#37137032)

It's unmanned, I mean I love technology but does this have any applications outside of the military?

How about working to make civilian flight cheaper/faster.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137206)

It's unmanned, I mean I love technology but does this have any applications outside of the military?

How about working to make civilian flight cheaper/faster.

Forget civillian. Which passenger wants to know they have NO pilot.
Freight, no there is a future. Have UPS / DHL etc save on pilots salaries. Who wants to fly a pile of boxes around anyway? I mean, have you not seen enough of Tom Hanks in Cast Away [imdb.com] ?

Re:wow (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 3 years ago | (#37137270)

> I mean, have you not seen enough of Tom Hanks in Cast Away [imdb.com]?

Once was enough...

But seriously, you're right about freight. Besides the lack of pilots, think about transporting freight at something like Mach 20. The world just got a lot smaller.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137952)

But how much freight actually matters if it gets there 10 hours earlier? Most freight isn't shipped with the fastest available options now, and there's every reason to believe hypersonic transports will cost even more.

The bulk of the time for most air freight is spent processing it or simply waiting on the ground, not in the air, so speeding that up by 30x doesn't mean much overall. Means a lot in terms of fuel, though!

Re:wow (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 3 years ago | (#37138394)

> But how much freight actually matters if it gets there 10 hours earlier?

Well, the thing that occurs to me immediately is human organs.

Re:wow (1)

517714 (762276) | about 3 years ago | (#37138780)

I was thinking Sweet Corn. I was thinking exports to China; you were thinking imports.

Re:wow (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 3 years ago | (#37137498)

Forget civillian. Which passenger wants to know they have NO pilot.

Air France passengers.

Re:wow (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | about 3 years ago | (#37137622)

It wasn't unmanned. Unfortunately, the janitor was onboard and didn't get out in time. However, during the flight, cosmic rays altered his genes and he now turns green and shouts "me rompe!" when he gets angry about the cost of cable TV. You don't want see Jose when he gets angry.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137918)

Military-developed techs tend to "trickle down" to the civilian world. It doesn't even have to be about hypersonic civilian aircraft; supporting technologies and engineering improvements could have an impact for the rest of us too.

Re:wow (1)

imsabbel (611519) | about 3 years ago | (#37139274)

Think second stage for rockets to archieve orbit!

With Mach 20, you are 70% to orbital velocity, while air breathing enourmously reduces weight requirements.

So, booster to mach 3 or whatever the scramjet needs to start, then accelerate and get height. After reaching Mach 20, activate rocket stage to enter orbit.

That would allow a _real_ space shuttle.

Re:wow (5, Funny)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 3 years ago | (#37137048)

Yah, I thought it was pretty crazy when they went straight from Mach3 to Mach5. My question is,"How do they get 20 blades on a razor? Does it look like a chisel or something?"

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137334)

Cheese grater, rather

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137502)

hilarious

Re:wow (1)

blueturffan (867705) | about 3 years ago | (#37138234)

Oh how I wish I had mod points today.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37139566)

LOL

Re:wow (1)

florescent_beige (608235) | about 3 years ago | (#37137142)

I don't know if a pilot could land a 20 Mach+ airplane, but the two Falcon crashes prove one thing: nobody would ever go up in a hypersonic glider unless it had an extensive flight-test program first.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137192)

Holy fuck! Mach 20? I scan slashdot regularly, but I somehow missed this story developing. I think the really cool thing about this is how the onboard systems allowed it to make a controlled splashdown. I bet no pilot in the world could deadstick a landing like that from that kind of speed. This is probably the beginning of the end for the fighter pilots.

Uh, it's not a "controlled splashdown" deadstick landing in the way you're envisioning it. If you watch the rendered video of the flight profile linked off DARPA's website, it's a maneuver where the vehicle is rolled on its back and then pitched into a steep, nearly vertical dive into the water. It is a very controlled action, yes, but it's not survivable for the vehicle (nor is it intended to be).

It's a research vehicle stuffed to the gills with sensors, not a practical aircraft. It can't launch on its own; it's carried into orbit and accelerated to Mach 20 by launching it on a rocket much like a satellite payload. It reenters and glides, rather than using any internal power to accelerate to Mach 20. It doesn't try in any way to solve the problems of landing a hypersonic vehicle. The goal of this program seems to be limited to collecting data on hypersonic flight dynamics, and they don't need to land to do that. Research programs like this might never fly more than 10 times, and it already has a very high cost per flight because they're throwing away an orbit-capable rocket every time it flies, so it was probably more cost effective to program them to self-destruct by sea impact instead of spending lots of time, money, and internal volume on a useless landing capability.

Re:wow (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 3 years ago | (#37137328)

I'm pretty sure a pilot could (well I don't know what the g forces are on that thing, let's assume they are conscious). After all "controlled splashdown" means "dive straight down into the ocean", also known as "crashing". Which is better than flying at Mach 20 in a random direction and hoping you stay over water.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137368)

I think a pilot might make that landing. Think of the Shuttle.

I am a very high time simulator pilot (30,000 to 40,000 hours, I only break for Slashdot and Techdirt). Yes I know, it is just a game, but it does emulate the real world. I have some experience with supersonic flight in the simulator. Not Mach 20, but it does not matter. If you are going that fast, you are using electronics to control the aircraft. In the simulator, the autopilot becomes overcome by the speed and altitude settings and tends to buck (float up and down, sometimes dramatically).

The real issue of controlled splashdown is speed. If you are going slow enough (within the paramaters of the airframe, and maintaining control (every aircraft has a stall speed, and that may depend upon configuration, eg. flaps and trim)) you can control your rate of descent. In this instance, the trim is the speed thingy, and the nose up and down thingy is the throttle (to quote Gene Whitt CFI http://www.whittsflying.com/web/index.htm [whittsflying.com] ). Balance those two and water landings are easy (I have several amphibs, the Lake Renegade Turbo is my favorite), dependent upon the state of the wave action (which you don't get in this simulator, one can land in mid ocean which is not real world).

I would bet that this aircraft has a much more sophisticated autopilot than my 6 year old simulator, and airplanes created by users. I would also bet that autoland implementations used in modern jets would be incorporated as well.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137454)

I was not aware that the 'splashdown' was a vertical descent. That a pilot would not make. The alternative I was discussing above was to try to save the aircraft. Not likely with ocean waves at the very least. Other factors include, what is the stall speed of the aircraft. If is low, there might be a chance. It likely isn't low.

Re:wow (2)

evanbd (210358) | about 3 years ago | (#37137380)

Going fast at altitude doesn't make landings inherently difficult; you just need to slow down before you get there, which isn't usually that hard. For a couple examples of high-velocity manual piloting: Pete Knight flew an X-15 re-entry from over Mach 4 with no electrical power, no backup electrical power, and correspondingly no instruments. And Gordon Cooper flew a manual re-entry of a Mercury capsule from orbit:"So I used my wrist watch for time," he later recalled, "my eyeballs out the window for attitude. Then I fired my retrorockets at the right time and landed right by the carrier."

Re:wow (1)

Lucractius (649116) | about 3 years ago | (#37139404)

I knew about Pete Knight, but Gordon Cooper, I had never heard of that little feat of manual piloting.
Ahh the days of "The Right Stuff"

Some days i feel like more people should die trying to get up there... make it risky & dangerous & daring... a feat to even manage to get up.
Maybe then people might find it more interesting & it wouldnt be like "oh, another launch... Yawn"

Re:wow (5, Informative)

subreality (157447) | about 3 years ago | (#37137630)

Mach 20 isn't really exotic in this context: don't think of it as a plane; it's more like a Reentry Vehicle for an ICBM warhead. The innovation is instead of following a ballistic trajectory (perhaps with minor maneuvering with an RCS), it glides aerodynamically. That gives it considerably more maneuverability, which would let it drop a bunch of bombs along the way, retarget late in flight, evade countermeasures like a fox, and perhaps even work as a rapid-deployment surveillance platform.

As far as air breathing aircraft go, we haven't progressed very well since the late 60s / early 70s. In that era, we came up with the Concorde (Mach 2 supercruise), and the SR-71 (Mach 3 on an engine that's built like a turbojet with reheat, but effectively operates as a ramjet at cruise speed). For practical aircraft, that's the best we've ever done. Prototypes like the X-43 and X-51 are pushing it farther, but they're only running a couple minutes at a time so far. Sustained flight at those speeds is really hard, so the Falcon's approaching it from the other end: bringing down the speed of a rocket-boosted vehicle instead of trying to raise the speed of an air-breather.

Unfortunately it's mostly a military toy since it's rocket-launched. Few peaceful applications are going to want to pay for an IRBM or ICBM per-use. The most we'll get out of it is knowledge about how to fly at these speeds which may come in handy if we get a practical scramjet working.

Re:wow (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 3 years ago | (#37137764)

The most we'll get out of it is knowledge about how to fly at these speeds which may come in handy if we get a practical scramjet working.

And I'm glad we are getting some practical working knowledge. I would hate to get an engine functioning at scramjet speeds only to have to spend another 2 decades trying to control it.

If there was no ICBM application we would hopefully carry out the same research just under the auspices of "applicable science". I don't know that the military applications in the short term diminish the larger significance in researching future flight systems.

Hopefully this will also improve our aerodynamic models so that our scramjet engine research has better simulations.

Re:wow (1)

subreality (157447) | about 3 years ago | (#37137970)

Oh, I'm happy for what we get. Yes, military research gives us lots of good spinoff tech. NASA and DARPA develop all kinds of toys for us. I just want to set people's expectations that this thing doesn't suggest that practical hypersonic aircraft are even on the horizon yet.

military outdoes NASA on tech spinoffs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37138322)

I think NASA overhypes the amount of tech spin offs it produces compared to research for the military. ARPAnet was built to survive a nuclear war. ENIAC was used for calculating trajectories of artillery shells. Spy planes pioneered use of liquid hydrogen and titanium. Nuclear weapon simulations were a major customer of early supercomputers. ICBMs made use of transistors, and later, ICs. ICBM experience would prove valuable in the upcoming Apollo project. The military pioneered radar, and satellite communications. Naval research has made good progress on the railgun, and financed development of superconducting motors. There is much more I have not included, but it is more than NASA has done.

Re:military outdoes NASA on tech spinoffs (1)

subreality (157447) | about 3 years ago | (#37138370)

Sure, but the military is operating on a $700B budget, whereas NASA is working with $18B. They'd be a more efficient spinoff generator even at 5% the output.

I also prefer to think of NASA as part of the military. Those big rockets weren't developed just to deliver astronauts to space, and NASA still does a lot of military work, like launching spy sats.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137910)

Errrrm, the SR-71 is more like late 1950s technology... But your point essentially stands. It's also the reason these laughably deluded Space Nutter fantasies are just daydreams, there's no physics, no engineering and no energy source to allow any of that sci-fi pablum to happen. Ever.

Re:wow (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 3 years ago | (#37138090)

Unfortunately it's mostly a military toy since it's rocket-launched.

At mach 20, you could dust all the crops in Illinois in just a few minutes. Of course, Cary Grant might have a harder time dodging...

Re:wow (1)

jandrese (485) | about 3 years ago | (#37138546)

From what I can tell, reality just caught up with aircraft development. Going faster is of limited use if it requires outrageous amounts of fuel that prevent the aircraft from ever being economical. Plus, unlike the planes of old, you can't build a supersonic rocket glider in your back yard if you just have a thing for aviation. So pretty much the only people who have both the money and interest to do something like this are research institutions (like the JPL, which doesn't have the money) and the military.

The Concorde is a good example of a triumphant failure. Despite offering considerably shorter flight times between two major cities it never managed to become economical, and despite massive government subsidies they couldn't afford to keep it running. It was a technological and political triumph, but a practical failure.

Re:wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37139620)

This isn't true. BA has said that Concorde was always profitable. (It wasn't for the governments though.)

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37138338)

1960s vintage Sprint ABM missiles [youtube.com] traveled at Mach 10. The first stage burn was only 1.2 seconds.

Not really that outlandish. But yes, zero chance of ever being manned. The SR71 was probably the pinnacle of that at about Mach 3.

Anyone else angry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137104)

$600 mil between the two crashed tests for a vehicle with a primary purpose of delivering bombs in less than an hour anywhere in the world. Does the Federal government (my government) seem to have any problem dropping bombs?

Are more to come? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 3 years ago | (#37137112)

We need to continue looking at things like this. This seems like a useful program that we should be funding. Sadly, CONgress killed blackswift already, which would have been equally useful.

3 minutes at Mach 20 is pretty darn good. (1)

seifried (12921) | about 3 years ago | (#37137146)

That's about 1224 kilometers or 760.5 miles. In three freaking minutes. That's normally a 1-2 hour plane ride. Or an 11 hour drive. In three minutes.

Re:3 minutes at Mach 20 is pretty darn good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137664)

I'm planning a trip from Seattle to Yellowstone in a month. That's a little more than 3 minutes per this analysis.
Woot!

Re:3 minutes at Mach 20 is pretty darn good. (1)

FreakyGreenLeaky (1536953) | about 3 years ago | (#37139068)

I know, it's beautiful isn't it? An astonishing achievement no matter how you look at it. Mach20...

3 minutes at Mach 20 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137160)

= 180 seconds * 20 * 0.3432 km/s = 1236 km (ignoring significant digits)

That's a pretty good distance for about the length of time of a TV commercial break.

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_sound )

Splash Down Confirmed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137450)

Well, it's a relief that it isn't still buzzing around up there.

They've released data on the anomaly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37137912)

Scientists confirm "we were just going too fucking fast".

What really happened (0)

renrutal (872592) | about 3 years ago | (#37138076)

Robot tries to copy move, gets out-FALCON PAWNCHED by the original.

UFO's did it. No, seriously. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37138144)

Might just be. Watch this:
Wouldn't be the first time. [youtube.com]

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