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Author Topic: Aurora - a famous speculative project  (Read 64497 times)

Offline Skyblazer

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Re: Aurora - a famous speculative project
« Reply #90 on: January 16, 2010, 03:42:42 am »
That source has historically been unreliable.

What does "historically unreliable" mean concerning facts that are less than two decades old? Do we have sufficient distance and clearance to properly assess the reliability of such recent facts? I don't know the specifics about THIS particular source, but surely, isn't it a government's job to make sure eye witnesses get dismissed as "unreliable"? I am as much cautious about would-be testimonies as I am about official denials.

Offline quellish

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Re: Aurora - a famous speculative project
« Reply #91 on: January 23, 2010, 05:49:53 pm »
What does "historically unreliable" mean concerning facts that are less than two decades old? Do we have sufficient distance and clearance to properly assess the reliability of such recent facts? I don't know the specifics about THIS particular source, but surely, isn't it a government's job to make sure eye witnesses get dismissed as "unreliable"? I am as much cautious about would-be testimonies as I am about official denials.

Can't answer that directly without busting forum rules, but....
As I'm sure you know, during the 1990s Groom Lake had a lot of outside attention on it. This was started, arguably, but John Lear in the 1980s and later the Bob Lazar story helped make "Area 51" a household name. Throughout the 90s there were people attracted to the base and the mythos surrounding it who were opportunists looking to make a quick buck. Others were serious researchers interested in government secrecy and other things.
A handful of people were somewhere in between.

As the attention on Groom Lake was rising, people would go out to the black mailbox (Steve Medlin's mailbox) on Highway 375 at 4am. Almost every time they would see a UFO, so reliable it was nicknamed "old faithful". Brightly lit, 700 feet long by some accounts, it strangely never appeared on weekends. Some entrepreneurs even organized tours that would take people out to see the UFO (for a not small amount of money).
Of course, this was actually the first JANET 737 flight of the day bringing workers to the facility from Las Vegas. Not a 700 foot long spaceship.

People see what they want to see. Some of those people see dollar signs.
A very easy litmus test though, is this. If someone says "I saw something weird", they're probably telling you everything. If they say "I saw the AX-17N!", they may be embellishing.

sublight

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Re: Aurora - a famous speculative project
« Reply #92 on: January 23, 2010, 07:07:34 pm »
The whole UFO urban legend really makes genuine sightings of interesting things like the Aurora hard to distinguish. I have a friend trying to turn the tide. Here is a "pre-production" version of his site: http://www.nomorestupidlights.com/seamonkey_primary.html

Offline quellish

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Re: Aurora - a famous speculative project
« Reply #93 on: January 25, 2010, 12:35:59 am »
To get back on topic....

Many of the theories surrounding the possible configuration of an AURORA aircraft assumed cryogenic fuels. McDD found in the 1970s that liquid hydrogen was not energy dense enough for a hypersonic cruise vehicle - the vehicle's size and drag would be prohibitive. Liquid methane was given as a possible propellant for an AURORA vehicle.
Both liquid hydrogen and liquid methane bring with them a number of challenges outside of the vehicle. In flight refueling would be.... difficult. Production and storage of these propellants would be costly and visible. USAF has shied away from cryogenic propellants in it's most recent scramjet programs because of the difficulty in creating the necessary infrastructure at overseas bases.
AURORA was assumed to have been flight tested at the Air Force DET 3 facility at Groom Lake, NV. To support even a small scale flight test program for a cryogenically fueled aircraft there would need to be storage and/or production infrastructure at the test location. These facilities simply do not exist at DET 3, nor at other candidate flight test locations. No evidence of large amounts of cryogenic fuels being transported to the facility via truck or aircraft was ever observed.

IF an AURORA-like aircraft was flown from the classified western test ranges, it seems very unlikely that it used cryogenic fuel.

Offline Skyblazer

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Re: Aurora - a famous speculative project
« Reply #94 on: January 25, 2010, 12:47:35 am »
Thanks quellish. This is the kind of neutral, informative and circumstanciated myth-debunking that is needed in this topic!

Offline SOC

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Re: Aurora - a famous speculative project
« Reply #95 on: January 25, 2010, 06:13:52 am »
Didn't Lockheed already prove with the SUNTAN program that a jet using other-than-normal fuel would have to be enormous to get any sort of useable range?  OK, so when Aurora was first being discussed there wasn't much on SUNTAN available in the public (there still isn't a ton of info), but still.  From what I remember SUNTAN got LARGE as the concept matured.

sublight

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Re: Aurora - a famous speculative project
« Reply #96 on: January 25, 2010, 09:28:09 am »
Well since RAF Machrihanish is wide open now, maybe somebody could walk around in there and look for clues? Maybe some fuel spills in the Gaydon hangar...

« Last Edit: January 25, 2010, 09:49:11 am by sublight »

sublight

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Re: Aurora - a famous speculative project
« Reply #97 on: January 25, 2010, 12:30:51 pm »
To take that a little further, would the Aurora have a cesium additive in its fuel like the SR71, and would somebody walking around the Gayden hangar be able to collect a sample that would show cesium under a spectrometer?

Offline quellish

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Re: Aurora - a famous speculative project
« Reply #98 on: January 25, 2010, 09:28:59 pm »
To take that a little further, would the Aurora have a cesium additive in its fuel like the SR71, and would somebody walking around the Gayden hangar be able to collect a sample that would show cesium under a spectrometer?


It's very unlikely. The specific reasons for the additives are detailed in "From RAINBOW to GUSTO: Stealth and the Design of the Lockheed Blackbird" (http://www.aiaa.org/content.cfm?pageid=360&id=1789) . Those same reasons would not apply to any modern hypersonic aircraft.
To make a long story short, the additives made the exhaust plume radar reflective, to mask the A-12's turbines from the rear. If you have seen a photo of an A-12 on an RCS test stand with cones come out of the back of the engines, this is why - the cones simulated the effects of the additives.

I do strongly encourage anyone with interest in these programs to get the book. It's very worth it.

Offline Simon666

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Re: Aurora - a famous speculative project
« Reply #99 on: February 01, 2010, 01:15:30 am »
If you have seen a photo of an A-12 on an RCS test stand with cones come out of the back of the engines, this is why - the cones simulated the effects of the additives.
Do you have that photo? I'd be interested. You're not referring to Mach diamonds or something, which are a purely aerodynamic effect?

Offline Hammer Birchgrove

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Re: Aurora - a famous speculative project
« Reply #100 on: February 01, 2010, 05:17:09 am »
... which of course is ridiculous because even if the armament and avionics can be updated as the program goes along, the very shape of the aircraft, its engine type and its handling characteristics are 20 years behind what can be done today. Imagine what 20 years represented a half century ago: that's roughly the gap that separates the Seversky P-35 and the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II ! Think of all that was imagined, flown and serviced in the meantime!!!

This is why everyone (sans USA and possibly France) should have bought JAS 39 Gripen.  ;) :P
To the heroism of the Resistance Fighters -- past, present and future -- this post is respectfully dedicated.

Offline quellish

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Re: Aurora - a famous speculative project
« Reply #101 on: February 01, 2010, 09:35:06 am »
If you have seen a photo of an A-12 on an RCS test stand with cones come out of the back of the engines, this is why - the cones simulated the effects of the additives.
Do you have that photo? I'd be interested. You're not referring to Mach diamonds or something, which are a purely aerodynamic effect?

Here is one:
http://area51specialprojects.com/images/oxcart2.jpg

Offline nitebot

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Re: Aurora - a famous speculative project
« Reply #102 on: February 21, 2010, 03:45:47 pm »
Oh well. One day we'll find out what this flippin' Aurora is meant to be!!

Offline Mr London 24/7

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Re: Aurora - a famous speculative project
« Reply #103 on: February 23, 2010, 04:29:55 am »
Since anecdotes are still about the best we have after all this time, I'd like to add one to the record here (I don't neccessarily endorse it, certainly not as verified fact, but merely present it here):

From an Article written by Terry Lutz in the Experimental Aircraft Association April 2006 'Wingtips' newsletter:
http://www.eaa55.org/Wingtips/wingtips2006/APR%2006%20Wingtips.pdf

Quote
Some years later, I was talking with a fellow test pilot named Rogers Smith, who at the time was flying the SR-71 at NASA Dryden. He related a story about flying from Edwards to White Sands and back. He asked his back seater, flight test engineer Marta Bohn-Meyer, to see what the controllers at White Sands were showing as their groundspeed and altitude. The controller replied that they were at 3500 feet per second and 129,000 feet. Both Rogers and Marta knew that wasn’t correct. When asked again, the rather flustered controller replied, 2450 feet per second and 81,500 feet. They both knew that there was another flight above them, using their flight as a cover for a classified program

Terry Lutz Bio:
http://www.eaa55.org/Profiles.html#T_Lutz

Rogers Smith Bio:
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/Biographies/Pilots/bd-dfrc-p015.html

For those with an interest: in the same article Lutz earlier refers to Bob Hoey (Dynasoar, possible 'Advanced Manned Vehicles' program involvement) showing him a wind tunnel model of a (manned) boost glide vehicle. Lutz then ties that plus the above quote into the now-discredited Avweek 'Blackstar' story.... ah well....
« Last Edit: February 23, 2010, 05:31:47 am by mr_london_247 »

Offline nitebot

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Re: Aurora - a famous speculative project
« Reply #104 on: February 23, 2010, 06:31:06 am »
It's already been mentioned in this thread but I remember when I first read about the term 'Gaspipe'. I used to buy one of the Short wave radio mags back in the early 90s - I was a scanner enthusiast. Someone wrote in from the US saying that they'd picked up radio communications between an air force base and what appeared to be an aircraft at very high altitude using the call sign 'Gaspipe.' The editor was impressed and asked if anyone else had picked this up. I was pretty sceptical about it all until I read about the sonic booms in California.

The evidence does point to test flights of some sort of aircraft but I bet that the USAF plans (I'm sure they had some) of a SR-71 successor was too costly and the tech too difficult to be reliable so the flights stopped and the program put on hold until about now. I say now because I sense that with the private sector and so many nations really taking a strong interest in space now, the US will be forced to up its game if it still wants to dominate orbital and suborbital space.