Military test of hypersonic missile at Kodiak Island launch complex fails

A test launch for an experimental missile system from the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Kodiak Island failed Thursday because of a problem with the booster system, according to media reports.

The incident, first reported by Reuters, involved a hypersonic missile system under development by the Department of Defense. According to the Pentagon, “Hypersonic systems are able to travel on extended flights within the upper atmosphere — 80,000 to 200,000 feet — at speeds near and above Mach 5, and they’re able to maneuver in ways that are hard for defenders to predict.”

China and Russia are also developing hypersonic systems, which can evade conventional missile defenses. Both countries are said to have conducted successful launches in recent weeks, according to U.S. media reports. President Joe Biden said this week he was concerned about development of the missiles, according to Reuters.

Defense News reported that the rocket was able to take off from the launch pad in Kodiak but the booster system experienced a problem. Details of the failure were not immediately available.

The “glide body” that constitutes the primary weapons delivery system did not have a problem, according to a statement from Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Gorman, Defense News reported.

Hypersonic prototype tests of three suborbital rockets were successfully carried out Wednesday at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Messages left with Alaska Aerospace, the company that runs the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, were not immediately returned.