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Aurora - a famous speculative project

hesham

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Hi,

http://www.fas.org/irp/mystery/aurora.htm
 

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PMN1

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Very similar to the designs in BSP Hypersonics Ramjets and Missiles.
 

CFE

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Any additional info on the 1985 Lockheed concept? An artist's concept was in Gunston's "Future Fighters" suggesting a turboramjet propulsion system. Top speed was estimated at Mach 5.

I also remember reading a story from 1988 or 1989 suggesting that an SR-71 follow-on would be air-launched from the cargo bay of a C-5. Does anybody else recall similar reports? When combined with the early 90's report of a lifting body being loaded into the back of a C-5, it's easy to see where some of the details in the "Blackstar" story came from. I'm skeptical that you'd want to launch any kind of aircraft from a C-5 because of the restrictions it would place on your wingspan (and ultimately the size of the vehicle.)
 

CFE

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Thanks for the link. The fact that the concept saw the light of day in an AIAA paper tells me that it's NOT Aurora!
 

coach46

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hesham said:
Hi,

http://www.fas.org/irp/mystery/aurora.htm
These 3D drawings from FAS where something of the first I saw on the internet, somwhere back in 1995...
 

hesham

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Hi,

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/AfterGravity/message/90
 

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quellish

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CFE said:
Any additional info on the 1985 Lockheed concept? An artist's concept was in Gunston's "Future Fighters" suggesting a turboramjet propulsion system. Top speed was estimated at Mach 5.

I also remember reading a story from 1988 or 1989 suggesting that an SR-71 follow-on would be air-launched from the cargo bay of a C-5. Does anybody else recall similar reports? When combined with the early 90's report of a lifting body being loaded into the back of a C-5, it's easy to see where some of the details in the "Blackstar" story came from. I'm skeptical that you'd want to launch any kind of aircraft from a C-5 because of the restrictions it would place on your wingspan (and ultimately the size of the vehicle.)
The air-launched system was a fictional design from a November 1988 issue of Popular Science. Aside from the air launch aspects, there was solid engineering and merit to the system they described given late 1980s technology.

The 1985 Lockheed concept was actually one of their original ATF designs.
 

airman

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Aurora - a famous speculative project
an article by wikipedia :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora_%28aircraft%29
 

Michel Van

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my reversed engineering approach on Aurora

http://www.whatifmodelers.com/index.php/topic,23507.0.html
 

Gannet

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My personal opinion is that the Aurora is the precursor (Technology Testbed) to the National Aerospace Plane (NASP). I do not believe that the U.S. would had pursued the NASP unless the critical technologies were already proven.
 

quellish

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airman said:
Aurora - a famous speculative project
an article by wikipedia :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora_%28aircraft%29
Every time I read certain wikipedia articles, I cry inside a little.


NASP *was* a technology demonstration program. A number of technologies were demonstrated, but the long poles in the tent are *still* being worked on.
 

Stargazer2006

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Michel Van said:
my reversed engineering approach on Aurora

http://www.whatifmodelers.com/index.php/topic,23507.0.html
Very interesting and credible chonology... But X-24C was already a dated design by 1977, wasn't it?
 

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Gannet said:
My personal opinion is that the Aurora is the precursor (Technology Testbed) to the National Aerospace Plane (NASP). I do not believe that the U.S. would had pursued the NASP unless the critical technologies were already proven.
NASP was supposed to be a Single Stage To Orbit (SSTO) tech. demonstrator.

AURORA, if it exist(s|ed), is allegedly a cruiser.

As such, AURORA would not bring much to the SSTO table.

For example, say AURORA exists and is a M6 airplane. It would be optimized
to cruise at M6 (perhaps). Or maybe cruise at a slower mach no. and sprint
to M6 for a short interval of time. As such, it would contribute little to
NASP. It would contribute to NASP some technology to get to M6, but NASP
would need to keep going beyond M6 all the way to above orbital speed (>M25)
so that some mach could be spent on an aerodynamic pullup into orbital altitude
out of airbreathing altitude.

The SSTO design problem is MUCH harder than the cruiser design problem.
 

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The following link provides additional info that lead other people to conjecture that the NASP was based on the existence and/or development of the Aurora SR-75 (Copper Canyon)

http://www.fas.org/irp/mystery/nasp.htm

"The program to develop what is called the National Aerospace Plane (NASP), designated the X-30, had its roots in a highly classified, Special Access Required, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) project called Copper Canyon, which ran from 1982 to 1985. Originally conceived as a feasibility study for a single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) airplane which could take off and land horizontally, Copper Canyon became the starting point for what Ronald Reagan called...

"...a new Orient Express that could, by the end of the next decade, take off from Dulles Airport and accelerate up to twenty-five times the speed of sound, attaining low earth orbit or flying to Tokyo within two hours..."

From Bill Sweetman's Book entitled AURORA The Pentagon Secret Hypersonic Spyplane; Motorbooks International, Mil-Tech Series; Osceola, WI 54020; 1993; p86 he stated the following:
"Many of NASP's key features represent one significant step beyond Aurora. NASP uses a more exotic, higher-energy fuel: slush hydrogen rather than methane. Aurora, with its tapered pointed nose, is a cruiser - the shape is a compromise between drag and inlet efficiency. NASP's spatula nose creates more drag and weighs more, but looks more like what it is, an inlet ramp, because NASP does not cruise in the atmosphere but constantly accelerates. NASP uses a similar engine to Aurora, but adds a supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet) mode for speeds above Mach 8, and a rocket for the final kick into orbit."

"Aurora is not just a spyplane. It is a very important stepping-stone toward real access to space, the kind of access that NASA's civil-service lifters promised from the shuttle but failed to deliver. Unfortunately, one factor above all prevents Aurora's potential from being exploited and prevents it true importance from being recognized. The US government says that it doesn't exist."
 

quellish

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Gannet said:
The following link provides additional info that lead other people to conjecture that the NASP was based on the existence and/or development of the Aurora SR-75 (Copper Canyon)

http://www.fas.org/irp/mystery/nasp.htm
Unfortunately the FAS material is very dated, and was more aggregation than analysis. COPPER CANYON and related programs were focused on rocket-only SSTO, not air breathing at all. This would have very little to do with AURORA, and didn't have as much to do with NASP as was thought at the time the FAS material was written. There are other threads on the site that go into more depth on COPPER CANYON and related programs.
The theories about cryogenic fuel for an AURORA are just that. The infrastructure to support even a very small test force of cryogenically fuelled aircraft does not exist, and would be very obvious.
 

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I'd prefer if we will not use such fantasy-born designations like "SR-75" or "SR-91", OK?
 

Stargazer2006

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Even calling it "the Aurora" is inadequate considering "Aurora" was probably a codename for the program, not the actual name of the aircraft itself. (some source claims that the actual aircraft is nicknamed "Gaspipe" by the pilots... but even this has not been verified).
 

shockonlip

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Gannet said:
...
From Bill Sweetman's Book entitled AURORA The Pentagon Secret Hypersonic Spyplane; Motorbooks International, Mil-Tech Series; Osceola, WI 54020; 1993; p86 he stated the following:
...
"Aurora is not just a spyplane. It is a very important stepping-stone toward real access to space, the kind of access that NASA's civil-service lifters promised from the shuttle but failed to deliver. Unfortunately, one factor above all prevents Aurora's potential from being exploited and prevents it true importance from being recognized. The US government says that it doesn't exist."

And earlier:
My personal opinion is that the Aurora is the precursor (Technology Testbed) to the National Aerospace Plane (NASP).
I do not believe that the U.S. would had pursued the NASP unless the critical technologies were already proven.
What I am talking about is pure airbreathing all the way to orbit.

Not the more practical for now, some airbreathing, followed by some rocket.

Pure airbreathing all the way to orbit is much more difficult and a successful Aurora would
not mean that I could build such a NASP the next day.

The airframe and engine, fuel, nozzle, boundary layer, thermal management, ..., everything
is different. Very different.

It's a wonderful problem!
 

OM

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quellish said:
Every time I read certain wikipedia articles, I cry inside a little.
...Usually, where tech articles are concerned, there's a high level of reliability. It's the genre articles that have been pwned by teenage catamites using sock puppet accounts to get themselves voted as admins so they can take total control of any number of articles and generally abuse anyone who tries to add true facts and/or correct obvious errors. Still, where Aurora is concerned, nothing's ever been revealed officially, so technically it's fiction and therefore a genre article. Best way to determine this is to see just how many reverts have been done in the past year, and if they've been reverted by the same one or two people each time. Then check those person's personal pages for controversy issues. It's not hard to spot a rogue admin, although it's *really* hard to get anyone at Wikipedia to do anything about it because it would be an admission that the system is *broken". Jimbo Wales can't have that, because it costs him donations.
 

Abraham Gubler

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OM said:
It's not hard to spot a rogue admin, although it's *really* hard to get anyone at Wikipedia to do anything about it because it would be an admission that the system is *broken". Jimbo Wales can't have that, because it costs him donations.
Wasn't there a case recently of a guy who was employed by a religious cult to keep their record clean on Wikipedia who basically worked he way up to the top – wrote all the procedures for dealing with rogue posters and the like – and was then exposed as the very same (in relation to his cult) and forced to quit from the upper reaches of Wikidom... Since all the effort has gone into building it up I don’t see why Wikipedia doesn’t just go commercial and remove the anyone can change it bit. Surely with their market reach they would be worth billions and could easily fund professional management of their resource while making huge profits.
 

Hammer Birchgrove

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Abraham Gubler said:
OM said:
It's not hard to spot a rogue admin, although it's *really* hard to get anyone at Wikipedia to do anything about it because it would be an admission that the system is *broken". Jimbo Wales can't have that, because it costs him donations.
Wasn't there a case recently of a guy who was employed by a religious cult to keep their record clean on Wikipedia who basically worked he way up to the top – wrote all the procedures for dealing with rogue posters and the like – and was then exposed as the very same (in relation to his cult) and forced to quit from the upper reaches of Wikidom... Since all the effort has gone into building it up I don’t see why Wikipedia doesn’t just go commercial and remove the anyone can change it bit. Surely with their market reach they would be worth billions and could easily fund professional management of their resource while making huge profits.
But then you lose the whole point of Wikipedia. Wikipedia isn't meant to be a source for academic papers or news articles, even though some use it as such.
 

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Um, used to be a sour joke here that UK.Gov 'classified' Alan Bond's HOTOL work and kept it thus beyond reason because a HOTOLski could have outrun an Aurora, never mind a Blackbird...

Irony is that the exasperated Mr. Bond went away and designed something better. He's now talking plausibly about a couple of hours to the Antipodes with Lapcat, and first-flight of Skylon in 2018...

http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/
 

shockonlip

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Nik said:
Um, used to be a sour joke here that UK.Gov 'classified' Alan Bond's HOTOL work and kept it thus beyond reason because a HOTOLski could have outrun an Aurora, never mind a Blackbird...

Irony is that the exasperated Mr. Bond went away and designed something better. He's now talking plausibly about a couple of hours to the Antipodes with Lapcat, and first-flight of Skylon in 2018...

http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/
I think it is impressive what Reaction Engines is up to.
The US also did a fair amount of work with cryo-cooled compression in the past.
I wish there was someone here in the US that was also working in this direction at
least as seriously as Reaction Engines is.

Larry
 

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Just think of $ that's been made on Aurora. I'm going to come up with something - maybe North Pole, just south of the North Pole.
 

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Aurora was and is a great urban-legend manifested in the demise of the SR-71, mock-ups of some of the FDL lifting bodies and the emergence of early stealth technology. Closest we've ever got to Aurora is the X-43 and X-51. My opinion the Aurora concept has morphed into Blackswift which even today only exist in the CGI world. China will probably fly an Aurora knock-off before the US gets around to it. :(
 

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Steve, you lost me. Didn't understand your last post.

Airrocket, I consider X-43 and X-51 as better than what we imagined Aurora
to be, as they are developing scramjet technology. And they're real.
So as I see it, we're working our way past Aurora.
 

quellish

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airrocket said:
Aurora was and is a great urban-legend manifested in the demise of the SR-71, mock-ups of some of the FDL lifting bodies and the emergence of early stealth technology. Closest we've ever got to Aurora is the X-43 and X-51. My opinion the Aurora concept has morphed into Blackswift which even today only exist in the CGI world. China will probably fly an Aurora knock-off before the US gets around to it. :(
The Aurora legend certainly took on a life of it's own.
By the mid-90s Aurora was supposedly an operational cryogenically fueled hypersonic reconnaissance aircraft meant to replace the SR-71.
Even a very small number of such aircraft would leave a huge logistical footprint, and that never materialized. The strategic reconnaissance mission of the SR-71 had long been orphaned, and other than for a few specific needs the tide was turning in favor of persistent surveillance rather than quick reaction.

That said, there is still considerable anecdotal information that suggests a small test force of very fast and/or unusually propelled aircraft were being flown at the time. There was also a role for such an aircraft in SAC's planning at the time, supporting the B-2 in prosecuting strategic relocatable targets (i.e. locating mobile ICBMs and telling B-2s where the haystack is).

It's a fascinating set of mysteries.
 

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For me, the most credible evidence was the report coming from Cat-Tech in the early 1990s. There were reports of small tremors from the inland empire that occured quite regularly (same day of the week. Thursdays, IIRC and about the same time in the morning). When queried, the Cal-Tech seismology group replied the tremors were not seismic, but rather shocks from an aerial vehicle. Every supersonic aircraft apparently has its own "footprint" and this did not match any type previously identified by Caltech. Because of the multiple number of seismic detectors, the vehicle could be tracked. It approached the area from the SW, descending near Catalina Islandand across the Southern California area, the track pointing to central Nevada. This data also allowed Cal Tech to estimate the size and weight of the object. All this information was reorted in the Pasadena local newspaper, but there were never anty follow-up stories. IIRC, I clipped the article and have it somewhere.

Best Regards,

Artie Bob
 

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http://www.mediafire.com/?g11dzigq2io

Seismic detection of sonic booms
Joseph E. Cates & B. Sturtevant
Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories, California Institute of Technology,
Pasadena, California, 91125

1 Introduction
The seismic network in Southern California routinely detects sonic booms
from aircraft. The high density of sites and the extensive ground coverage
of the network, over 50,000 square kilometers, provide a unique opportunity
to study the long-range propagation of direct and indirect sonic booms.
In Section 2, the fundamental features of sonic boom carpets under a
realistic atmosphere are presented. The pressure signals from the N-wave
signal in the atmosphere produce a small, but detectable, ground motion
as outlined in Section 3. Seismic data from three over°ights are presented
in Section 4: a west to east SR-71 pass at M = 3:15, the landing of space
shuttle Discovery, STS-42, at Edwards AFB, and the passage of shuttle
Discovery over Washington and Oregon. Section 5 presents the results of
an analysis of a set of "mystery booms" which occurred in California in
1992 and 1993.
 

Stargazer2006

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There was a fascinating (if wacky) testimony by a French guy years ago who was giving a very precise account of flying in the Aurora, which he claimed was actually designated XR7 and dubbed "Gaspipe" by the pilots. He even joined two would-be real photographs to the article, and I think what really made it impossible to believe (besides the fact that there was little reason why this guy would have been given a ride aboard the most secret aircraft on the roster) was the fact that he was a UFO-spotting loonie with other pages on aliens. Yet the pictures looked genuine enough for an untrained eye and are so far the only alleged photographs of the Aurora I've seen. What I like about them as well is that they show a "believable" prototype aircraft, not a sophisticated sci-fi type spaceship! Anyway, here they are, for what they're worth. If anyone would like me to update the diagrams he published of the propulsion system, I have them as well...
 

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I wonder if those images could be representative of the still classified YF-24?...
 

SOC

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Weren't those images discovered to be fake, generated by a guy with a model hanging by wires? It looks like an exact copy of the speculative Aurora from Bill Sweetman's book.
 

Stargazer2006

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They could very well be fakes... as I said "here they are, for what they're worth", I haven't got the faintest notion whether they are done with scale models, doctored photographs, or if the are genuine. They just LOOK realistic in terms of lighting. Size-wise I'd say it's difficult to say because there is no point of reference in the pictures.
 

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Yup, those are definitely fake. The guy explains how he did it on page 10.

http://web.archive.org/web/20040823164323/forum.a-10.org/topic.asp?whichpage=1&ARCHIVEVIEW=&TOPIC_ID=2241
 

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In the late eighties I was convinced Aurora was out there at Area51 flying in the dark misty night sky for real. However 20+ years later the sad reality of our hypersonic air-breathing technology development is becoming very evident. Plus the realization that things change and that the RECCE niche has been filled by other means. That said I still enjoy the myth, hype, models, and renderings that go with it. Long live Aurora.
 

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Artie Bob said:
For me, the most credible evidence was the report coming from Cat-Tech in the early 1990s. There were reports of small tremors from the inland empire that occured quite regularly (same day of the week. Thursdays, IIRC and about the same time in the morning). When queried, the Cal-Tech seismology group replied the tremors were not seismic, but rather shocks from an aerial vehicle. Every supersonic aircraft apparently has its own "footprint" and this did not match any type previously identified by Caltech. Because of the multiple number of seismic detectors, the vehicle could be tracked. It approached the area from the SW, descending near Catalina Islandand across the Southern California area, the track pointing to central Nevada. This data also allowed Cal Tech to estimate the size and weight of the object. All this information was reorted in the Pasadena local newspaper, but there were never anty follow-up stories. IIRC, I clipped the article and have it somewhere.

Best Regards,

Artie Bob
One of the most interesting things about the mystery booms/skyquakes to me was that they fit the Groom Lake flight test schedule at the time.
 

Stargazer2006

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SOC said:
Yup, those are definitely fake. The guy explains how he did it on page 10.

http://web.archive.org/web/20040823164323/forum.a-10.org/topic.asp?whichpage=1&ARCHIVEVIEW=&TOPIC_ID=2241
Thanks! I'd never read that before. Proof that you don't have to doctor pictures to fool people, a scale model and a proper lighting can do the trick!!!
 

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quellish said:
airrocket said:
Aurora was and is a great urban-legend manifested in the demise of the SR-71, mock-ups of some of the FDL lifting bodies and the emergence of early stealth technology. Closest we've ever got to Aurora is the X-43 and X-51. My opinion the Aurora concept has morphed into Blackswift which even today only exist in the CGI world. China will probably fly an Aurora knock-off before the US gets around to it. :(
The Aurora legend certainly took on a life of it's own.
By the mid-90s Aurora was supposedly an operational cryogenically fueled hypersonic reconnaissance aircraft meant to replace the SR-71.
Even a very small number of such aircraft would leave a huge logistical footprint, and that never materialized. The strategic reconnaissance mission of the SR-71 had long been orphaned, and other than for a few specific needs the tide was turning in favor of persistent surveillance rather than quick reaction.

That said, there is still considerable anecdotal information that suggests a small test force of very fast and/or unusually propelled aircraft were being flown at the time. There was also a role for such an aircraft in SAC's planning at the time, supporting the B-2 in prosecuting strategic relocatable targets (i.e. locating mobile ICBMs and telling B-2s where the haystack is).

It's a fascinating set of mysteries.
Yes there are still loose ends.

I guess you could call them UnFunded Opportunities! :)
 
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