As I was stumbling upon a fantastic picture shared by Stéphane Querry (follow his blog Survols), look at what the Californians could see up in the sky yesterday, on Friday, December 22, 2017:

Alors que je suis tombé sur une vue fantastique partagée par Stéphane Querry (suivez son blog Survols), regardez ce que les Californiens pouvaient voir dans le ciel. C’était hier, vendredi 22 décembre 2017:

The trails left by SpaceX Falcon 9 launch were so spectacular that the Californian witnesses believed it was a UFO. Beyond these impressive images, a new era has just begun as this lift off has sent 10 telecommunication satellites into space to build up the « orbital real estate » of the Iridium® satellite constellation. Aircraft, ships and land vehicles navigation will never be the same thanks to this network:

Les traînées laissées par le lancement de SpaceX Falcon 9 étaient si spectaculaires que les témoins californiens ont cru qu’il s’agissait d’un OVNI. Au-delà de ces images impressionnantes, c’est une nouvelle ère qui vient de commencer étant donné que ce lancement a envoyé 10 satellites de télécommunication dans l’espace pour construire le « parc orbital » de la constellation Iridium®. La navigation des aéronefs, des bateaux et des véhicules terrestre ne sera plus jamais la même grâce à ce réseau:



New-York to Los Angeles in 12 minutes… It would have been a record-breaker, had it worked:

The DARPA and USAF FALCON project might give anybody the thrill of speed as this « aerospacecraft » has been designed to reach Mach 20 i.e. around 20,000 km/h; 5.6 km/s; 10,800 knots; or 12,400 mph depending on the air temperature, and the altitude which might be above at least FL900!

DARPA USAF FALCON HTV-2 hypersonic aerospacecraft - 22 April 2011
DARPA HTV-2 - 22 April 2011 ---- Photo: DARPA, US Federal Government

Unfortunately, the project seems to encounter major difficulties as the last test which unfolded on August 11, 2011 failed again. The previous one – also on an HTV2 – had failed in April. Click on the right-hand side picture to get further information on the first test. The Blackswift (HTV-3X)  had been designed by ATK; Boeing; Lockheed Martin; and Skunk Works to provided a strategic strike anywhere in the world within an hour. It was cancelled due to a lack of funds (see the HTV-3 shown in the following video):



  • DARPA stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
  • FALCON stands for Force Application and Launch from CONtinental United States
  • FL stands for Flight Level (FL x 100ft = altitude)
  • HTV stands for Hypersonic Test Vehicle or Hypersonic Technology Vehicle
  • RCS means here in the videos: Reaction Control System (and not Radar Cross Section)

Click on the picture below, and then on the blue arrows to watch the different phases of light:

Flight Overview slide, MACH-20 DARPA AEROSPACECRAFT
Flight Overview slide - Interactive picture: DARPA, U.S. Federal Government