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US to begin new phase of hypersonic flight program

3 years ago July 06, 2012 Jul 6, 2012 Friday, July 06 2012 Friday, July 06, 2012 5:04:38 PM CDT in News
Source: Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - 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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