LOS ANGELES — Unexpectedly severe degradation of the protective aeroshell at speeds of up to Mach 20 most likely caused the loss last August of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (Darpa) second Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2), according to a report produced by an independent engineering review board. Although designers of the Lockheed Martin-built hypersonic vehicle expected the skin to gradually wear away as it reached stress tolerance limits, Darpa says “larger ...

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