US hypersonic glider launched

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This Aug. 3, 2011 photo released by Vandenberg Air Force Base shows a Minotaur IV rocket standing beside Space Launch Complex-8 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. A hypersonic glider is scheduled for launch atop the Minotaur rocket, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011. The Hypersonic Test Vehicle-2 is an experiment in extremely high speed flight technologies by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, Staff Sgt. Scottie McCord)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An experimental unmanned hypersonic glider has been launched from an air base on the central California coast.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency used Twitter to announce the launch Thursday from Vandenberg Air Force Base 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

A rocket carried the agency's Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 to the edge of space, where it separated from the booster to maneuver through the atmosphere at 13,000 mph. Minutes into the flight, the agency said the mission was on track in its glide phase. The mission will end with a plunge into the ocean.

A similar vehicle was launched last year and returned nine minutes of data before contact was prematurely lost.

The U.S. military is trying to develop technology to respond to threats around the globe at speeds of Mach 20 or greater.