Man, it’s been a rough week for rockets. First it was SpaceX self-destructing one of its Falcon 9 rockets. Then the ESA launched satellites into the wrong orbit. Now, the U.S. Army had to blow up a prototype hypersonic weapon after an anomaly was detected in its test flight.
“The flight was terminated in the first four seconds,” Pentagon spokeswoman Maureen Schumann told Space.com.
The Advanced Hypersonic Weapon blasted off on a three-stage STARS solid rocket booster from Alaska’s Kodiak Launch Complex early yesterday morning. Shortly after takeoff, an anomaly was detected and the rocket self-destructed. These safety measures are built-in to prevent an errant rocket from flying where it shouldn’t.
The U.S. military is always looking for new weapons. These weapons, in particular, can be delivered extremely quickly. Hypersonic generally means an object is traveling greater than Mach 5. A successful test of the weapons system in 2011, saw it travel 2,500 miles in just 30 minutes.
It’s unclear at this time what caused the malfunction in Monday’s test. A photographer even managed to grab a picture right as the rocket exploded. Scott Wight of Kodiak, Alaska captured this photo of the explosion as it happened.
How yesterday’s failure affects the weapons program isn’t clear. Not every test is going to go your way when testing new tech. The Army’s weapon is part of a larger program that includes projects from the U.S. Air Force.
Thankfully, there were no injuries reported in yesterday’s failed launch.
Top image shows successful test from 2011. Image credit: U.S. Army
Mid post image credit: Scott Wight