US hypersonic rocket program launched

Image copyright Nasa Image caption The hypersonic version of the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) was used during the tests

US military officials have launched three experimental hypersonic rockets in a test of their technology designed to defend the country from a nuclear attack.

The launch tested the technologies of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, run by the Missile Defense Agency.

The programs aim to test and demonstrate hypersonic technologies to ensure that the US can strike its enemies at an affordable price.

A more realistic scenario may see soldiers being first to face the rockets at hypersonic speeds.

About 100 feet (30m) tall, the components of the hypersonic devices were composed of four gigantic pipes extending from the top of the vehicle to the ground.

The rocket engines that produced the smoke and fizz over the Arizona desert were a class of unmanned aircraft known as Speed Agile Strategic Weapons (Soars).

The launcher used during the tests has a top speed of about Mach 3 (3,600km/h, 2,600mph) at just five miles (8km) above the ground, with a range of about 100km.

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