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US to begin new phase of hypersonic flight program

Associated Press Modified: July 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm •  Published: July 6, 2012
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Defense Department's research arm will seek proposals next month for solutions to technology hurdles in super high-speed flight with a goal of testing a full-scale hypersonic X-plane in four years.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said Friday it will host a so-called Proposers' Day on Aug. 14 to lay out technical areas for which proposals are being sought.

DARPA has tested highly experimental versions of a rocket-launched unmanned glider designed to fly at speeds 20 times the speed of sound, or Mach 20. The goal is to give the U.S. a defense capability of reaching any spot on Earth in an hour.

But such aircraft have to endure blast-furnace heat and require extraordinary controls.

The last test launch from California ended with the glider's skin peeling away.


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