Re: aurora spy plane

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Message posted by casper_n on October 24, 2019 at 22:36:32 PST:

So, nomenclature aside ... Peter, do you believe the donuts-on-a-rope-leaving, skyquake causing, pulse-jet hypersonic aircraft (likely technology demonstrator) existed in the early 90s?

I get the feeling based on comments over the past year or two along the lines of "we've been on the edge of a hypersonic breakthrough for decades" that the technology has been tried and failed. I think the aircraft commonly called "Aurora" may well have flown but proven unreliable. A decade later, NASA's x-43 built on lessons learned, but suffered similar setbacks, and now a gray-world iteration in the SR-72 may finally have the computing power to fix the design flaws.

But to answer Joe's question, if such an aircraft existed, there are only a few possibilities as to where it is now.

1) the project failed and the test aircraft were either lost to crashes or they remain hidden at Area 51 or a similar site. (We know that early stealth demonstrator aircraft were buried at Groom Lake to keep them from ever falling into enemy hands).

2) the project succeeded and the aircraft is operational but still kept hidden from the public. In this case, there aren't many bases in the US that could maintain secrecy around an airplane that is reported to be hugely loud, cause earthquakes, and require massive runways. Area 51 ... Tonopah ... Holloman ... or, my personal guess, Vandenberg's "Shuttle Processing Facility" -- it makes great sense for a big, fast aircraft that you don't want to fly over populated areas. If you haven't read Tyler Rogaway's writeup on that facility, it's worth the time. I'll link to it below.

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In Reply to: Re: aurora spy plane posted by Peter Merlin on October 24, 2019 at 20:56:40 PST:


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