The U.S. Army exploded a hypersonic weapon being tested shortly after its launch because operators detected an anomaly during its flight.

The Army quickly destroyed the weapon for safety reasons, and fortunately, because of the Army's fast response, no injuries occurred. However, the launch facility did receive some damage.

The weapon, which launched from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska, is a new type of missile that can destroy targets anywhere on the planet within an hour of launch. It's part of the Pentagon's Conventional Prompt Global Strike weapons technology development initiative that focuses on creating weapons for uses on both land and sea.

The missile, called a Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) travels at hypersonic speeds at Mach 5, which is five times faster than the speed of sound. The HTV-2 has undergone testing by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the past five years.

Most recently, the missile passed a test in 2011 from the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. That test saw the missile travel 2,500 miles in just 30 minutes.

This time, though, controllers detected an anomaly within the first four seconds of its flight. This prompted controllers to terminate the test by exploding the weapon.

"We had to terminate," says Maureen Schumann, a spokesperson for the U.S. Defense Department. "The weapon exploded during takeoff and fell back down in the range complex."

In a typical test launch, a launch vehicle carries the HTV-2 into near-space. There, the missile separates from the launch craft and makes its journey back into Earth's atmosphere, ending by crashing into the ocean.

According to the DARPA website, there are three technical challenges facing the missile's design and construction: understanding the extreme aerodynamics of the missile, creating something that can withstand the heat created during hypersonic travel, and navigating the missile with precision at such high speeds.

Regardless of the failed launch, the U.S. Defense Department does not see this incident as a set-back for the HTV-2 program.

"This was one concept that we were looking at in a range of possible CPGS concepts," says Schumann. "The whole CPGS program is event-driven, not time or schedule-driven, so we learn, we keep learning from a variety of ground testing and modeling and simulation and other tests done on the range of concepts under CPGS."

A thorough investigation of the missile's failed launch is currently underway.

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.