DARPA releases video of HTV-2 second test flight


August 29, 2011

DARPA's HTV-2 hypersonic vehicle, which prematurely splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on its second test flight

DARPA's HTV-2 hypersonic vehicle, which prematurely splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on its second test flight

The first - and perhaps only - video footage of the ill-fated second test-flight of DARPA's Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) has been released. Shot with a handheld camera by a crewmember aboard the Pacific Tracker, the first monitoring vessel able to visually track the HTV's initial entry into the atmosphere, the video shows the HTV-2 hurtling across the sky on August 11 at Mach 20 before its "controlled descent" into the Pacific Ocean.

While it would have been nice if DARPA had shelled out a couple of thou on a decent zoom lens or let some photographers tag along on the monitoring vessel, DARPA Director, Regina Dugan says the video, "gives us a visceral feel for what it means to fly at Mach 20."

DARPA released the handheld video alongside a video showing a speed comparison between the HTV-2, a C-5 and an F-18. No surprises for guessing that the HTV-2 leaves the other aircraft in its wake.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick


Jay Finke

Now that I see the video, I wish they would have spent some of the grant money on a better system for filming the re-entry, or more likely show us the video from the better system


You do know that they only pax that could survive a flight at Mach 20 are robots, right? So these 12 minute flights from N. Y. to L.A. would be for cargo?


Re nostarme People once questioned weather you could survive 40 MPH. Once you make the the craft reliably survives the experience making it carry people is easy, assuming that it is not pulling too many Gs.


That looked so very real! :)

Paul Anthony

As far as surviving Mach 20 US astronauts and Russian cosmonauts have been surviving Mach 20 or there abouts since the 1960s. Speed does not is the sudden stop.

I thinknostarme is confusing G force with Mach numbers. Very different things.


one would think that DARPA would be able to provide video better than 720p,,,sigh

Bill Bennett

Millions of dollars in tax money spent on this stuff (still one of the tiniest parts of the budget, including all of NASA) and they can\'t spring for decent air and ground based video tracking equipment?

They could\'ve borrowed all the gear NASA bought for monitoring Shuttle launches after the Columbia disaster.

Gregg Eshelman

Re: Jay Finke

Actually, it looked pretty authentic to me. What struck you as a forged video? Do you watch a lot of experimental hyper-sonic test footage on a daily basis?


What makes you think DARPA doesn't have really good video of this flight?

Robert Snyder

That has to rank as the least interesting and uninformative videos I have ever seen. Pathetic! Worse than some UFO videos.

The shuttle regularly performed this sort of flight.


Looks like it was recorded on someone's cell phone. I bet there's better chase camera video. Perhaps we'll get to see it some day.


I suspect that this craft might actually be Chinese or Russian b/c this nation does not have trillions to blow on space age tech. DARPA? Since when was DARPA ever in the aerospace business? Like nvr! If I am corrrect, this thing was not designed by Americans since we've had a serious "brain drain" for awhile now. The scientists who designed something like this had to have been Russian or Chinese or a combo of both. Perhaps this prototype was made for the US to see if Congress would "bite" and buy a ton of them? I know Congress is in no mood to spend trillions on this stuff so even if this thing was being "shown off" it's probably been packed off to it's owners by now. History is littered with junk like the Aurora, all of it is either in junkyards awaiting scrapping or has been scrapped.

Gershom Patrioticus

No, there was no confusing speed with g force. Depending on the acceleration time needed to arrive at this speed, the body's ability to cope with g forces becomes an important factor. Although why some have suggested that this system could only be used for cargo has me puzzled. The human body can potentially cope with any speed provided there was protection from the outside environment.

Terence Munro

it seemed very unstable and was flapping around out of any real control.

Greg Webber
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