The second flight of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) is underway after a successful launch at around 7.46am PDT. Confirmation that the small test vehicle successfully separated from the Minotaur IV booster was given three minutes later and the Pacific tracking network acquired the signal at approximately 7.50am.
The launch from Space Launch Complex 8 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif, was delayed by just over 24 hours after a cancellation due to weather. HTV-2 is designed to demonstrate the high lift-to-drag aerodynamics and high-temperature materials needed for sustained hypersonic flight, with the goal of validating technology for a vehicle able to reach anywhere in the world in 60 min
The second vehicle (HTV-2b) incorporates a more robust flight control system to counter the issues which led to the loss of the first vehicle, nine minutes into the flight on April 22, 2010. The revised control system incorporates changes to the center of gravity to reduce the lateral/directional coupling which occurred on the first flight, as well as adaptations to allow the vehicle’s nitrogen-gas reaction control system to be used for yaw control in the atmosphere – as well as in space.
[Editor's note: see an update from Guy here on the test.]