Answer? At least twice, and probably a lot more.
The Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 is pretty much what we’ve come to expect from the American military’s mad science factory: something that has a practical use and still sounds blitheringly insane. In this case, it’s a robot that gets launched into sub-orbital locations, gets fired out of a rocket, and goes ripping around the world at Mach 20 (~ 13,000 mph or 21,000 km/h). To give you an idea of how fast that is, the F-22 currently tops out at Mach 2.5.
So far, its big achievement has been hitting Mach 20, sending about nine minutes of data, and then crashing into the ocean. Seriously. They’ve done it twice, so far, and they’re prepping another drone as we speak.
Why are we spending millions of dollars on this? Because
it’s really freaking neat it can go around the world in an hour and collect valuable intelligence without the people being spied on even noticing. And the military loves that.
Also, they want to crash one into a terrorist compound, just for giggles.
[ via the hypersonic hedgehogs at Gizmag ]