taking off

taking off

A 2011 U S military test of hypersonic weapons technology

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Pentagon's top-secret hypersonic weapon explodes in mystery Alaska fireball: Flaming missile that can hit anywhere on Earth in an hour lights up the sky Rocket carrying an experimental Army strike weapon exploded early Monday after taking off from a launch pad in Alaska Kodiak photographer Scott Wight watched the launch from Cape Greville in Chiniak Weapon able to travel at speeds of up to 3,500mph and strike anywhere on Earth in hours A top-secret weapon being developed by the US military was destroyed four seconds after its launch from a test range in Alaska early on Monday after controllers detected a problem with the system, the Pentagon said. The Advanced Hypersonic Weapon is part of a program to create a missile that will destroy targets anywhere on Earth within hours - traveling at speeds in excess of 3,500 miles-an-hour or Mach 5. The mission was aborted to ensure public safety, and no one was injured in the incident, which occurred shortly after 4 am EDT at the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska, said Maureen Schumann, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Defense Department. 'We had to terminate,' Schumann said. 'The weapon exploded during takeoff and fell back down in the range complex,' she added. The incident caused an undetermined amount of damage to the launch facility 25 miles from the city of Kodiak, Schumann said. Officials said that the weapon system was not carrying a warhead when it was aborted. The rocket carrying the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon was terminated near a pad of the Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island shortly after liftoff, spokeswoman Maureen Schumann said. After an anomaly was detected, testers made the decision to destroy the rocket to ensure public safety, Schumann said. "It came back down on the range complex," she said. "Fortunately, no people on the ground were injured. There was damage, but I'm not sure of the extent of it at this time." The launch complex is about 25 miles from the city of Kodiak. Witnesses watched the rocket lift off at 12:25 am, quickly head nose-down and explode, KMXT radio reported. Kodiak photographer Scott Wight watched the launch from Cape Greville in Chiniak, about a dozen miles from the launch site. He described the explosion as quite loud and scary. A fire afterward burned brightly. The rocket was the booster for the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, a glide vehicle designed to quickly reach a target. The design is one of several being tested by the Army under the umbrella of the Conventional Prompt Global Strike program, Schumann said. "It's a concept that will allow the Department of Defense to engage any target anywhere in the world in less than an hour," she said. The first flight test of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon on November 17, 2011, flew the weapon from Hawaii to Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific. The test Monday was designed to enhance previous ground testing, modeling and simulation, Schumann said. Traveling at hypersonic speed, the glider also was aimed at Kwajalein and was supposed to cover the 3,500 miles in less than an hour, Schumann said. It was a setback for the US program, which some analysts see as countering the growing development of ballistic missiles by Iran and North Korea but others say is part of an arms race with China, which tested a hypersonic system in January. Riki Ellison, founder of the nonprofit Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said he did not think Monday's failure would lead to the program's termination. 'This is such an important mission and there is promise in this technology,' he said. He said officials aborted the mission after detecting a fault in the computers. Anthony Cordesman, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said the technology was best suited for use against smaller, less-developed countries with missiles. 'The United States has never assumed that these ... are going to be systems that you can use against a power like China by the...