HTV-2 Test Flight Footage Released

Video shows DARPA hypersonic aircraft traveling at Mach 20.

DARPA has released video footage of the recent HTV-2 test flight, giving the public a glimpse, albeit a distant one, into the movements of the unmanned hypersonic aircraft shortly before it was lost in the Pacific Ocean.

The video, shot with a handheld camera by a crewmember aboard a tracking vessel, shows the aircraft in controlled Mach 20 flight, which it sustained for almost three minutes before initiating an unanticipated, controlled descent into the Pacific Ocean.

While the video footage doesn’t exactly give viewers an up-close view of the HTV-2, it does provide, according to DARPA director Regina Dugan, “a visceral feel for what it means to fly at Mach 20.”

Exactly how fast is that? Think more than 11 times faster than an F-18 at top speed. For those of you who couldn’t quite get a feel for it in the first video, check out the animated speed comparison below.

The HTV-2 first flew in April 2010. The project is focused on long-duration hypersonic flight, with an ultimate goal of reaching anywhere on the planet in less than an hour.