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Falcon Hypersonic Vehicle bombs out near Mach 20

We all think that moving around at 600 mph in a plane is quite normal, but hardly any of us will ever get to travel at more than 720 mph (Mach 1). In the USA,  boffins at the DARPA advanced project slab have been toying with vehicles that can go a little quicker. Around 20x quicker. KitGuru dons a pressure suit to investigate.

In the past, the future was supersonic. The embodiment of that fantastic future was Concorde, a gorgeous plane designed to deliver passengers across the globe in a flash. While regular passenger jets take around 8 hours to move people from London to New York, the Concorde was capable of delivering 100 people in much less time. The record was set in 1996 at 2 hours 52 minutes.

But Concorde is now history.

So what does the future of high speed travel look like?

Welcome to the edge of space and then some. Set dreams to maximum. Deployment on the left - flight on the right.

Well, according to the fine folks at DARPA, it could well be shaped like the Falcon Hypersonic vehicle.

Once they have ironed out a few issues, that is.

A rocket leapt into the air Thursday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base, carrying one of the cool Hypersonic Falcons inside and, once it had achieved the right altitude/attitude, it opened up to deploy the vehicle.

Unfortunately, 9 minutes into the flight – which reached speeds of up to Mach 20 (around 14,000 mph in old money) – the ground staff lost contact with the ship. As part of an automatic safety procedure, the Falcon politely nose-dived into the Pacific to avoid a tragic accident.

Given the shape of the world, if you achieve 14,000 mph, then you can reach almost any spot on the planet in 1 hour.

We like the Falcon: It’s this kind of science that captures the imagination and has us all dreaming of a better tomorrow.

Remember when $6M would buy an entire programme? Now it's probably the flight crew's annual salary.

KitGuru says: While we’d love to believe that the USA delivers peace and love at 20x the speed of sound, KitGuru is aware that troops and armour and high-explosives are the more likely first passengers. Still, the prospect of heading off to the airport at 11am for a lunch time meeting in Sydney – and being back for your 4pm golf slot in the afternoon is very appealing.

Comments below or in the KitGuru forums.

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