Falcon HTV-2: Lost in space

Oh dear. When we brought you news on Thursday about the Falcon HTV-2; the fastest plane ever that was preparing to take flight, we didn't think it would end like this.

Officials at the US Defence Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced that they had lost contact with the HTV-2 at 4.21pm BST, just 36 minutes into the flight.

More than nine minutes of data was collected before the aircraft was said to have crashed into the Pacific Ocean along its planned flight path.

“Here’s what we know,” said Air Force Maj. Chris Schulz, DARPA HTV-2 program manager and PhD in aerospace engineering. “We know how to boost the aircraft to near space. We know how to insert the aircraft into atmospheric hypersonic flight. We do not yet know how to achieve the desired control during the aerodynamic phase of flight. It’s vexing; I’m confident there is a solution. We have to find it.”

“In the April 2010 test, we obtained four times the amount of data previously available at these speeds. Today more than 20 air, land, sea and space data collection systems were operational. We’ll learn. We’ll try again. That’s what it takes.”

We like Maj. Schulz. Most would see the loss of a $300 million aircraft as a big kick in the teeth. Schulz likes to look on the brighter side of life.

Pocket-lint has a theory. We think the HTV-2 may have hit the correct speed (10,088mph probably) to ignite the Flux Capacitor, thus hurtling the plane through a time warp. Somewhere, sometime, there's a grey haired scientist examining the wreckage, who will use the technology for his own endeavours in the years to come.

Either that or it just crashed in to the sea. One of the two.