On a Fast Pace

DARPA is looking to fly the two expendable hypersonic test vehicles being built under its Falcon program next year. Flight reported April 30 that HTV-2a will fly in May 2009 and HTV-2b will follow in October, citing DARPA’s Steven Walker, who spoke April 28 at an industry conference in Dayton, Ohio. Each will be launched by an Orbital Sciences Minotaur booster from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., and impact near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. But each will fly a different trajectory, with HTV-2a meant to demonstrate performance characteristics and HTV-2b cross-range maneuvering and thermal protection system performance, the magazine reported. Under Falcon, DARPA is maturing technologies applicable to ultra-fast strike systems of the future. HTV-1 was a ground test demonstrator that never flew. After the two HTV-2s, DARPA is planning to develop HTV-3X, a reusable air vehicle that employs combined-cycle propulsion technologies, under the Blackswift program, which is an offshoot of Falcon.