NASA launches a trio of hypersonic rockets from its Virginia facility

Three hypersonic rockets, each powered by a cluster of winged storages, launched on Sunday morning from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced. The rocket technology, which uses an engine to propel the spacecraft through the sky, represents the first step to making such missions a reality for the military.

The rockets are powered by a hybrid rocket engine that is designed to be capable of reaching orbital speeds. The Air Force plans to fly three suborbital rockets each year. According to NASA, the space agency will spend the next three months performing range and mission simulator tests in order to get ready for the first test flight of the rocket, which is due to take place in the near future. The rocket will not actually fly, but it will test the stability of the rocket and the software that controls the rocket on its way into space.

“On the three powered flight tests, the aircraft will lift off from the Wallops Island spaceport and will be released 10 minutes after takeoff,” NASA reported in a tweet, alongside a video of the the rocket’s launch.

The rocket launches from Wallops Island, VA. Watch more about the hypersonic research program and watch the first of many rocket launches: https://t.co/z5NiuyIboI pic.twitter.com/YuxkuJDzT8 — NASA Wallops (@NASA_Wallops) November 5, 2018

The Air Force has been testing the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon, which uses jets to rocket an explosive payload at six times the speed of sound, in early October. When the tests begin next year, they could potentially allow the military to create a weapon that could destroy any target much more quickly than it currently can. Hypersonic technology is ideal for speeding up travel between continents because of its capacity to move at breakneck speeds. According to Popular Mechanics, which first reported on Sunday’s rocket launch, “The system, while not a stealth bomber, isn’t very conspicuous, and most of its technical capabilities are undiscovered, so making a piloted missions seems highly unlikely.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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