Read More>http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011...t-plane-falconAlok Jha, science correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 10 August 2011 19.53 BST
By the time you finish reading this sentence, the Falcon HTV-2, the fastest plane ever built, could have flown 18 miles. It would get from London to Sydney in less than an hour, while withstanding temperatures of almost 2,000C, hotter than the melting point of steel.
At 3pm BST on Thursday , the US Defence Advance Research Projects Agency will launch the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 on the back of a rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. If all goes to plan, engineers will launch the Falcon HTV-2 to the edge of space, before detaching the plane and guiding it on a hypersonic flight that will reach speeds of 13,000mph (about 20 times the speed of sound) on its return to Earth.