The US military tested a hypersonic weapon in Alaska yesterday, and things didn't go according to plan. Within four seconds of its launch, the weapon was destroyed by authorities due to a problem, Reuters reports; an expert says it was a computer issue. For public safety reasons, "we had to terminate," says a Pentagon rep. "The weapon exploded during takeoff and fell back down in the range complex," where it resulted in some damage to the launch area, but no injuries.
A missile defense advocate doubts the failed test will end the program. "This is such an important mission and there is promise in this technology," he says. "It's a concept that will allow the Department of Defense to engage any target anywhere in the world in less than an hour," the Defense rep says. The resulting missile would travel faster than 3,500mph, the Daily Mail reports. Some experts think it's being developed with Iran and North Korea's ballistic missile development in mind; others point to a US-China arms race, Reuters notes. China ran a similar test this year. (Click to read about new Navy weapons that sound like something out of Star Wars.)