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Aurora - a famous speculative project

RyanCrierie

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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.
Most likely this was probably a "Bird of Prey" type aircraft developed in the late eighties to help test and prove the technologies that would be used in the ATF program -- e.g you're going to have to have some way of testing the RAM and such being developed for YF-22/YF-23 full scale development; but you need something capable of cruising supersonically for hours on end to truly stress the material -- and the SR-71 is just too damn expensive to operate.

So it's possible they put together a very cheap, naturally stable supersonic cruiser out of the types of materials expected to be used in the ATF program, in much the same way they put together "Bird of Prey", and flew it during that time period to generate a mass of modern materials information on the effects of sustained supersonic flight (all the data on this is 30+ years old and from the Mach 3+ regime of the SR-71 and B-70; and is different than the regime the ATF would fly in).
 

quellish

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RyanCrierie said:
Most likely this was probably a "Bird of Prey" type aircraft developed in the late eighties to help test and prove the technologies that would be used in the ATF program -- e.g you're going to have to have some way of testing the RAM and such being developed for YF-22/YF-23 full scale development; but you need something capable of cruising supersonically for hours on end to truly stress the material -- and the SR-71 is just too damn expensive to operate.
Why would you need to be flying supersonically "for hours on end" to stress the material?
RAM is actually pretty easy to test on the ground.
 

RyanCrierie

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quellish said:
Why would you need to be flying supersonically "for hours on end" to stress the material?
RAM is actually pretty easy to test on the ground.
True; you could possibly put a mockup of RAM shapes into a wind tunnel, and crank it up to supersonic speeds.
 

seruriermarshal

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Lauge said:
seruriermarshal said:
A patch from 51 area Special Projects Flight Test Squadron . I think the red after wizard is strange .
At the risk of raining on someones parade: What evidence is there that these badges have anything to do with Groom Lake / Area 51? As opposed to, say, having been sewn up in somebody's moms basement?

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
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It's from Trevor Paglin's book , he send more patches , like ATOP , Bird of Prey .
 

Mr London 24/7

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For me, 3 reports have always stood out:

Meinrad Eberle's sighting:

http://www.dreamlandresort.com/trip_reports/trip_020.html

Chuck Clark's sighting which was briefly detailed in David Darlington's 'The Dreamland Chronicles' (http://www.amazon.com/Area-Dreamland-Chronicles-David-Darlington/dp/0805060405/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263547088&sr=8-4):

(Quote) "I even saw the Aurora take off one night - or an aircraft that matched the Aurora's reputed configuration, a sharp delta with twin tails about a hundred and thirty feet long. It taxied out of a lighted hangar at two-thirty A.M. and used a lot of runway to take off. It had one red light on top, but the minute the wheels left the runway, the light went off and that was the last I saw of it. I didn't hear it because the wind was blowing from behind me toward the base." The author then asked Clark when this had taken place. "February 1994. Obviously they didn't think anybody was out there. It was thirty below zero - probably ninety below with the wind chill factor. I had hiked into White Sides from a different, harder way than usual, and stayed there two or three days among the rocks, under a camouflage tarp with six layers of clothes on. I had an insulated face mask and two sleeping bags, so I didn't present a heat signature. I videotaped the aircraft through a telescope with a five-hundred-millimeter f4 lens coupled via a C-ring to a high-eight digital video camera with five hundred and twenty scan lines of resolution, which is better than TV." The author then asked where the tape was. "Locked away. That's a legitimate spyplane; my purpose is not to give away legitimate national defense. When they get ready to unveil it, I'll probably release the tape."

And of course Chris Gibson's North Sea triangle, as previously discussed on the forum (http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,2868.0.html).

I think the key is that none of these individuals ever sought particular fame or fortune from what they believed they had seen. Indeed in the case of all three it appears the publicity put them off more than anything, and none would appear to discuss it now. Clark still refuses to release the alleged tape.

aero-engineer's quote is also very interesting. I guess such anecdotes really are the best we have since we may now have passed 20 years from a first flight, perhaps?, and still nothing...
 

RyanCrierie

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Building off the "Bird of Prey" style idea I had; look at the IOC for the F-22 -- conceived in the 1980s; fly off in 1992, first sort of production plane in 1998 or so, IOC in like 2006ish.

An engineer can spend his entire career now on a single plane, given how stretched out research and procurement schedules are now -- and the plane might even be cancelled after spending 20 years in development, see the LHX/Comanche; which has to cripple morale.

"Gee son, this is a photo of the helicopter I worked on, no, it never entered service, we only built one!" has got to be crippling to morale.

So it's likely we've built a whole clutch of "Bird of Prey" planes to teach new engineers the various 'ins and outs' of building modern combat aircraft to keep the experience base high.
 

archipeppe

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RyanCrierie said:
An engineer can spend his entire career now on a single plane, given how stretched out research and procurement schedules are now -- and the plane might even be cancelled after spending 20 years in development, see the LHX/Comanche; which has to cripple morale.
It got the same way, even worste, for Typhoon.
Born in 1982 as ACA, renamed Eurofighter 2000 in 1984/85, flyoff of the BAe EAP demonstrator in 1986 (the same year of the very first Rafale, born for the same reasons), first prototype in 1994, first production batch only after 2000 and first units entered in service, in Italy (who desperately needed them) in 2007 only as interceptor. It last more than 25 years to get in service and the bomber capability as just ongoing..... :mad:
 

Stargazer2006

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... 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!!!
 

RyanCrierie

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What I mean by keeping the experience base high is this -- a lot of designs we see on this site are largely speculative; they're basically some rough aerodynamic calculations from wind tunnel models plus some guesstimates on the structural fraction that the plane will have; based around hypothetical or existing components; e.g. such and such radar will weigh 200 kg, and have a 30" diameter dish. Basically blank spaces with the same weight and volume as the real radar -- no consideration of heating, cooling, electrical/data needs.

Because of the lack of real projects, a lot of companies don't push designs into the detail design phase -- I've seen the detail design for a lot of stuff at the National Archives from the 1950s; and even hypothetical designs like the competitors to the Grumman A-6 got pretty detailed in terms of internal arrangements, electrical layout, etc.

You don't get that now, because there's only one major combat aircraft program every 15-20 years now (F-22 then F-35); so there is no opportunity for engineers to learn their trade on detail proposals that lost out to someone else.

This is what I suspect a lot of "secret" projects flying out of Groom Lake are nowadays -- testbeds to help train engineers, and kept as simple as possible, like with Bird of Prey.
 
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I'm just throwing this out here, but what if the rumbling was some sort of seismic bunker detection system? The DoD has been throwing an awful lot of money on bunker detection and mapping.
 

Bailey

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Are we drifting off topic ?

Regards Bailey.
 
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Chuck Clark says "That's a legitimate spyplane; my purpose is not to give away legitimate national defense. When they get ready to unveil it, I'll probably release the tape."

If his purpose isnt to give away legit national defense then why in the hell did he talk about it? Like releasing the tape is going to change anything....
 

Stargazer2006

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sublight said:
Chuck Clark says "That's a legitimate spyplane; my purpose is not to give away legitimate national defense. When they get ready to unveil it, I'll probably release the tape."

If his purpose isnt to give away legit national defense then why in the hell did he talk about it? Like releasing the tape is going to change anything....
Hey! It's quite a different thing to say there's a super sophisticated aircraft out there, way ahead anything that's currently flying anywhere else in the world, and actually releasing details, photos, specs and so forth. He did not unveil the Aurora, he confirmed its existence. In terms of leaking intelligence, there could be worse than that! And I think it even has a positive effect with foreign intelligence agencies: "Yes, we're still making outrageously sophisticated stuff that could kick your ass before you can even lift your finger, but the less you know, the better!"
 
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I dont think a video of 500 lines resolution taken at considerable distance is going to give "the bad guys" anything strategic to go on. Furthermore the Ruskies still have an incredible intelligence apparatus and probably have the detailed pics and specs of that beast already.
 

quellish

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sublight said:
Chuck Clark says "That's a legitimate spyplane; my purpose is not to give away legitimate national defense. When they get ready to unveil it, I'll probably release the tape."

If his purpose isnt to give away legit national defense then why in the hell did he talk about it? Like releasing the tape is going to change anything....
That source has historically been unreliable.
 

mz

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Stargazer2006 said:
... 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!!!
I don't think engines have advanced that fast either. And what's the need, it's a zero sum game, it's enough if you have stuff that gives you an edge over the other guys. Everything everywhere can happen in slow motion since nobody is really trying that much to leapfrog the others.
 

Mr London 24/7

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quellish said:
That source has historically been unreliable.
Indeed Quellish, you are right to point this out and I did literally remove and re-paste the quote a few times before I submitted it.

But since this is a Theoretical forum I did eventually post it. I guess I thought it relevant enough in the end and that it might prompt further discussion on this fascinating Topic. I also do wonder how much of it was just Campbell hating him (who with his site etc was the primary conduit for much related public comment at the time), and thus publicly making him a figure of ridicule for a time. Joerg Arnu (webmaster @ DLR for others) did stand by him and credited him with providing much useful info for his site for example. I think he was former military so the OPSEC thing has come into fashion again over recent years and might make sense.

For me the jury is still out....
 

Stargazer2006

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quellish said:
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.
 

quellish

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Stargazer2006 said:
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.
 
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sublight

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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
 

quellish

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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.
 

Stargazer2006

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Thanks quellish. This is the kind of neutral, informative and circumstanciated myth-debunking that is needed in this topic!
 

SOC

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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.
 
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sublight

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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...
 
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sublight

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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?
 

quellish

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sublight said:
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.
 

Simon666

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quellish said:
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?
 

Hammer Birchgrove

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Stargazer2006 said:
... 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
 

quellish

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Simon666 said:
quellish said:
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
 

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Oh well. One day we'll find out what this flippin' Aurora is meant to be!!
 

Mr London 24/7

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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/WINGTIPS-2006-4.pdf

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....
 

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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.
 

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quellish said:
mr_london_247 said:
I have a Rich Graham book (don't recall which one) in which he mentions making a presentation at the DoD at the end of the SR program alongside a Project Manager from a classified follow-on program which was unmanned. I think he implies it was very advanced and hugely expensive (and there was a negative implication around the briefing itself). I had therefore assumed this was Quartz/AARS or some derivative. Of course no real detail is mentioned but I can look up the quote if theres interest.

OMEGA (PE 0207591F (Tactical, Operational System, Ships & Related, Serial 91, Air Force)), is another long-running and interesting PE which was still around as recently as 2005 & 2007 last time I checked.

Quellish, just out of pure interest, could I ask please if you know what happened to Paul McGinnis from the Skunk Works List days?
That's interesting, because QUARTZ/AARS was an intelligence agency program before it became Tier III and was put under DoD control right before it was cancelled. I'm still not sure how much overt involvement USAF had while the intelligence community owned it.

OMEGA and a couple of others are very interesting because they are classified as tactical programs, yet use the single word naming of a strategic program. OMEGA may be the classified side of the U-2 program.
http://homepage.mac.com/quellish/bd2/aircraft/afsp/

I don't know what happened to Paul McG, I now live relatively near where he was in 1998 and should have run into him professionally by now, but haven't.
A couple more pieces to the puzzle (which exemplify some of the confusion regarding possible programmes):

A CIA report "Soviet Reaction to Stealth" (SNIE 11-7/9-85/L, page 10) cites the "Moscow Journal of Anti-Aircraft Defenses" from March 1983: http://www.foia.cia.gov/docs/DOC_0000261288/0000261288_0013.gif
According to the report, Lockheed was "(...) presently building 29 reconnaissance aircraft which have received the designation CSIRS. Their construction is being financed by the project for designing the future ATF fighter aircraft."

Of course this might just refer to the F-117 - see also the CIA report "US STEALTH PROGRAMS AND TECHNOLOGY: SOVIET EXPLOITATION OF THE WESTERN PRESS http://www.foia.cia.gov/docs/DOC_0000500640/0000500640_0005.gif, which states that in 1988 the "western press" reported that the Toponah, Nevada based "F-19" conducted reconnaissance missions from basis in the UK and Alaska.

More relevant to the topic: "SOVIET HYPERSONICS R&D: APPLICATIONS TO CIVIL AND MILITARY AVIATION" (SW 90-10056X, Sep 1990): http://www.foia.cia.gov/ (search for "hypersonics"). Page 14 of the report states: "[] discussed the concept amid reports about US development of a manned Mach 4 to Mach 5 reconnaissance vehicle []". The report is quite interesting as it also identifies passive or active cooling as one of the main challenges in operating a hypersonic vehicle.
 

quellish

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wb said:
A couple more pieces to the puzzle (which exemplify some of the confusion regarding possible programmes):

A CIA report "Soviet Reaction to Stealth" (SNIE 11-7/9-85/L, page 10) cites the "Moscow Journal of Anti-Aircraft Defenses" from March 1983: http://www.foia.cia.gov/docs/DOC_0000261288/0000261288_0013.gif
According to the report, Lockheed was "(...) presently building 29 reconnaissance aircraft which have received the designation CSIRS. Their construction is being financed by the project for designing the future ATF fighter aircraft."

Of course this might just refer to the F-117 - see also the CIA report "US STEALTH PROGRAMS AND TECHNOLOGY: SOVIET EXPLOITATION OF THE WESTERN PRESS http://www.foia.cia.gov/docs/DOC_0000500640/0000500640_0005.gif, which states that in 1988 the "western press" reported that the Toponah, Nevada based "F-19" conducted reconnaissance missions from basis in the UK and Alaska.
That is all consistent with reporting in the US open literature at the time. The Soviets were just repeating what the US press was saying.
 

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As a previous poster stated, with the privatization of spaceflight and the eventual suborbital and orbital civilian spaceflights coming up eventually, do you think they will release some information? What can stop a civilian or a business/company from eventually taking pictures of possible stuff like hypersonics/sub-orbitals and satellites?
 

quellish

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John21 said:
As a previous poster stated, with the privatization of spaceflight and the eventual suborbital and orbital civilian spaceflights coming up eventually, do you think they will release some information?
I don't see what privatization of space flight has to do with Aurora.

What can stop a civilian or a business/company from eventually taking pictures of possible stuff like hypersonics/sub-orbitals and satellites?
Physics?
 

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quellish said:
To get back on topic....

... the difficulty in creating the necessary infrastructure at overseas bases.
... large amounts of cryogenic fuels being transported to the facility via ... aircraft ... .
Thanks for the business idea!

Tony Stark
 

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John21 said:
As a previous poster stated, with the privatization of spaceflight and the eventual suborbital and orbital civilian spaceflights coming up eventually, do you think they will release some information? What can stop a civilian or a business/company from eventually taking pictures of possible stuff like hypersonics/sub-orbitals and satellites?
Nothing.
Publishing them however, or talking about them, may be problematic.
That is if they flew near your Virgin Galactic flight (will flight attendants
be called Galactic Virgins?), you would be marked.
This has happened before during OXCART and SENIOR CROWN. Replace
Virgin Galactic with American Airlines or whatever airlines flight it was in those
cases.

The other scenario I like is where Joe Schmoe (remember him?) flies his own
Mach 10 Starliner Cruiser, and passes Aurora one day, and waves as he goes
by.
 

Mr London 24/7

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I think there's some value in adding this, a good Aurora Bibliography originally posted on the Skunk Works List in 1993 by a Larry Smith (http://www.netwrx1.com/skunk-works/v04.n038). I'm always reminded that despite the passage of time, we still know little more [of substance] today:

From: larry@ichips.intel.com
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 1993 11:55:02 -0700
Subject: Aurora Bib. Part 1

Paul Michael Keller and Larry Smith put this Aurora Bib. together.

Aurora Bib. Part 1.

Feb.. 4, 1985: "Procurement Programs (P-1); Department of Defense Budget For
Fiscal Year 1986; February 4, 1985"

Exhibit P-1;
"Strategic Reconnaissance" Section; "Other Aircraft" Category.
Line No. 28: Aurora
Ident Code: B
No Procurement (dollars) in FY 1984
No Procurement in FY 1985
In 1986: No number under 'quantity' but 80.1 million
dollars under 'cost'.
In 1987: No number under 'quantity' but 2,272.4 million
dollars under 'cost'.

Line Nos. 29 and 30 are both TR-1/U-2 Procurements with
aircraft quantities written in under the 'quantity' columns.

Oct., 1986: in a speech to the First High Speed Commercial Flight
Symposium, held at Columbus, Ohio. I quote Ben Rich, from the Proceedings
of this conference, without permission:

"Because of Lockheed's continuing interest in high speed flight, we
have over the past decade, conducted a number of studies in support
of the USAF and NASA's hypersonic initiatives. One of these efforts
is a high altitude Mach 5 penetrator using a dual flow inlet
turboramjet. Two of the inlet/engine concepts are an over/under and
a wraparound concept. This engine would utilize kerosene fuel for
Mach 4 flight but would require liquified methane at Mach 5."

Early 1988: New York Times. The first 'article' from an inside source that we
are developing something for the Mach 5 regime (I have a copy of this article -
but the person who sent it to me neglected to date it). It WAS mentioned
in a later article. I'd be willing to copy it for the group here. The
NY Times source indicated that the USAF has been working on this capability for
some time. Contrast this with what Generals Dugan and Randolph say below
in Defense News, 4/24/89.

Los Angeles Times Jan 14, 1988 (I have not seen this but I've seen it
referenced). Maybe a duplicate of the NY Times article.

Nov. 1988 Popular Science cover story: The first 'noticed' introduction
to the general public of the 'waverider', and it's application to an
'Aurora'-like mission. Good hypersonic sources were quoted. And the cover
story vehicle was an actual optimized Mach 5 design. The thesis
of a C-5 launched 'Aurora' actually was a possible reference to possible C-130
based Lockheed model drop tests conducted earlier and also the launch
out-the-back of a C-5 in the late 70's or 80's (I have a picture of this
somewhere with a good date) of a miniteman ICBM. Of course, the Aurora
C-5 launch story-concept was fun but silly. BUT! It may have been a hint
from an inside source of what we now suspect the B-70-like aircraft is for.

Armed Forces Journal International, Jan. 1988, pg. 40: "Is Lockheed Building A
Super-Stealth Replacement for USAF's Mach 3 SR-71?"

This article tracks Lockheed spending and the dollar ammounts in classified
aircraft program categories. It mentions F-117 Nighthawk as the designation
of the Lockheed Stealth Fighter BEFORE the F-117A was announced!

Defense News, 4/24/89, pg 4: "AF Pushes for New Stealthy Spy Vehicle;
Blackbird Replacement Is a Decade Away".

A replacement for the Air Force's U-2 and TR-1 spy planes is likely to be
fielded for SAC long before a follow-on to the SR-71.

General Michael Dugan, former Deputy Chief of Staff for plans and operations,
says "We're looking at U-2-like capabilities ... but they're expensive".

According to Gen. Dugan, the new platform would be small and stealthy
bu extremely expensive to operate and maintain.

Gen. Bernard Randolph. commander Air Force Systems Command told Defense
News that his command is involved in efforts pertaining to a possible
unmanned strategic reconnaissance vehicle.

Service and congressional sources indicate that secret USAF development
of secret strategic reconnaissance vehicles has focused on unmanned
platforms.

Gen. Dugan stressed that ongoing USAF research in strategic reconnaissance
has not included a replacement to SAC's fleet of SR-71s, slated for
deactivation in October.

Gen. Randolph, Referring specifically to a SR-71 replacement, insisted that
all efforts are currently relegated to very early stages of discussion.

According to congressional intelligence sources as well as government
intelligence agencies, an SR-71 replacement is almost 10 years away.

I do believe that Gen. Randolph said something different from Gen Dugan here!

Aviation Week (AW&ST) Dec. 18, 1989, pp. 42-43, A VISTA issue, discussion
of 'pulser' sightings and of possible Mach 6 aircraft program named 'Aurora.'
This is the first AW&ST reference to Aurora. This is also the first AW&ST
report of the 'pulser'. It also displayed a drawing of the shoulder
patch of a secret former Lockheed program known as UAB. The patch
showed a Blackbird planform with a crossed-out pilot figure in the
center.

AW&ST, Jan. 8, 1990, p. 74, letter to the editor reporting alleged sighting
of a Mach 6 aircraft off California Coast.

AW&ST, Jan. 22, 1990, cover story: "SR-71 Operational Assignment Ends".

Nice article on the carreer of the Lockheed Mach 3+ Blackbirds. However
there was mention of the following regarding a possible new system:

The Senate Armed Services Committee was supporting [the continued funding]
of thw SR-71 program, but the House Armed Services Committee wanted to
phase it out and proceed with a classified airborne reconnaissance program.
The two committees could not agree when meeting in conference for the
authorization bill, and so decided to cancel both programs. The classified
program was in the early stages of development at best, and would not be
available for years, if at all. (see Defense News 4/24/89 above, and
Defense News, July 29, 1991 below and Aerospace Daily, January 13, 1993
below)

Defense News 6/18/90: interview of Gen. Larry Welch (then USAF Chief
of Staff - now retired) (pg 40).

Quoting General Welch: "The SR-71 is no longer appropriate for the
SR-71 mission".

Defense News 6/25/90: (pg 38), the subject is recon. vehicles during an
interview with Ben Rich.

Rich: "You need satellites and airplanes. Airplanes are much more flexible
than satellites. You cannot do one exclusively of the other. So there
will be airplanes needed for surveillance - they do not all have to
be manned - ...".

Defense News: How can the SR-71 contibute to technologies and designs needed
for a new spy plane?

Rich: "Besides aerodynamics, we have to have thermodynamic balance, and
we have to learn to deal with cryogenics. Any new system requires
LOTS of volume. You CANNOT replace hydrogen in air, ... Today we
CAN DO anything we can afford. If WE WANT to go to anywhere about
Mach 6 or Mach 8 we need hydrogen. If you want to stay under
Mach 4, you will need hydrocarbon".

In this interview, Rich went on to deny any knowledge about "Aurora",
but said "there are a whole bunch of programs out there". He implied that
the Skunk Works is working on "sensor" programs.

Interesting negation of mid-air refuelling with hydrogen. The 3/93
Popular Science story disagrees with it.

AW&ST, Oct. 1, 1990, pp. 20-23, two articles dealing with technology and
possible sightings of 'black' aircraft, with artist's conceptions. The
phraseology of this article is quite interesting.

Interavia Aerospace Review, Nov. 1990: There was supposed to be a
Bill Sweetman piece entitled: "The Aurora Enigma", to be published
in the Nov., 90 issue of Interavia Aerospace Review.

AW&ST, Dec. 24, 1990, pp. 41-43, a VISTA issue, article on advanced air-
craft technology. The diamond shaped AURORA concept was introduced in this
piece. I have just heard in 10/93, that Some black aircraft watching
authorities now think that the vehicle that may be carried on the back of the
XB-70 similar aircraft, is a similar shape - a pumpkin seed shape. See
shape drawn in Oct 1, 1990 AW&ST above.

Defense News, July 29, 1991, pg 11: "Panel Seeks End to Secret Spy System".

Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) has recommended cancellation of
a secret airborne spy system, developed under the highly classified
Airborne Reconnaissance Support Program (ARSP).

Congressional staffers declined to describe the new airborne reconnaissance
system rejected by the panel. The new system is a highly classified aircraft.
The ARSP's program element number shows that the spy aircraft has passed
the research and development phase.

Among the aircraft managed under ARSP are the U-2 and TR-1 systems.
The article mentioned a SIGINT system named SENIOR SMART also managed by
ARSP.

The article mentioned that an effort to transfer ARSP's assets to the
General Defense Intelligence Program was recommended by SASC.

AW&ST, October 28, 1991, pp. 68-69, article on pulse detonation engine
engine technology (possible Aurora propulsion).

AW&ST, Nov. 11, 1991, pp. p. 15, News Breaks Dep't, short report on
accoustic/seismic tracking of two high speed aircraft at mach 3 over coastal
S. California.

- -- End of part 1 of 2 parts.

------------------------------

From: larry@ichips.intel.com
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 1993 11:55:23 -0700
Subject: Aurora Bib. Part 2

Aurora Bib. Part 2 of 2 parts.

Popular Mechanics, December 1991: Cover story (cover was the TR-3 but Aurora
was discussed inside the article).

The Scotsman; Feb. 18, 1992: "Hot on the Trail of America's Biggest Flying
Secret". Reports of a ~ Mach 3 aircraft seen on RAF ATC radar emerging from
the joint NATO-RAF station at Machrihanish Scotland during November 1991.
Ben Rich tells Janes Defense Weekly "There is a need for some vehicle -
I didn't say SR-71 - to complement the satellites. I won't tell you what
it is, but there is a need."

Jane's Defence Weekly (JDW), Feb. 29, 1992, report of RAF ATC radar
tracking an aircraft departing RAF-NATO Machrihanish, Scotland at mach 3.

AW&ST, March 9, 1992, pp. 66-67, report of sighting of possible 'black'
aircraft near Beale AFB, Calif. An interesting possible 'Aurora' operations
test at Beale AFB in the end of Feb. 92?

AW&ST, May 11, 1992, pp. 62-63, Photographs of 'donuts-on-a-rope' contrails
that were made by a loud and very fast pulsed sound aircraft as it flew over
Amarillo Texas.

AW&ST, July 6, 1992, p. 13, Industry Observer Dep't, more reports
of sightings of 'donuts-on-a-rope' contrails.

AW&ST, July 20, 1992, p. 13, Industry Observer Dep't, report on
'impulse motors,' another possible Aurora propulsion mechanism. This engine
is believed to be a combined cycle engine composed of airbreathing and
rocket cycles.

Flight International, July 22-28, report of possible magnitude of
Lockheed Advanced Development Company's (aka Skunk Works) revenues
derived from 'black' programs.

AW&ST, Aug. 24, 1992, pp. 23-25, report and technical analysis of
XB-70-like aircraft sightings in Edwards AFB area. Includes artist's
conception of aircraft. This issue also contains on p. 24 a widely-quoted
report of a near-collision of a UAL 747 with a mysterious supersonic aircraft.
Also a story of an observed late night 1/91 rollout, at Lockheed Burbank, of a
SR-71 like nose section (perhaps the XB-70's nose section).

The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 4, 1992, p. B6 (Midwestern Edition), summary
of to-be-published JDW article on possible 1989 sighting over UK North Sea
waters. Includes artist's conception diagrams.

Janes Defense Week V18 No24-25; December 12, 1992: "The Aurora File"
This piece talked about the Chris Gibson sighting of a 75 degree swept delta
shaped planform over the North Sea. This design is tied into past hypersonic
studies at McDonnell Douglas. Sweetman also believes that AURORA's propulsion
cycle is a airbreathing rocket + ramjet combined cycle plant.
(See 7/20/92 AW&ST)

Washington Post Dec. 1992: This one caused a steamy response from
then Air Force Secretary Donald Rice. This article's foundation was the
JDW 12/12/92 article, but it was a different article written for the
Washington crowd. Less technical detail, more about the "Black" world and
how funding for black projects seems to violate the spirit of democracy.

Aerospace Daily, January 13, 1993: This article was a classic 'debunking'
of a hypersonic AURORA in the complete spirit of UFO debunking from the
50's on. This article appeared to be part of the fallout over the Sweetman
Washington Post 12/92 article. However there was 'useful' information in this
article.

The article for the first time indicated that the USAF gave up on a
1980s attempt to develop a follow-on to the SR-71. The technology was
out of reach according to Pentagon and industry sources.

The aircraft, originally envisioned as succeeding the SR-71 in the 1990
timeframe, was being developed at least in part by Lockheed's Advanced
Development Co. or "Skunk Works" unit in Burbank, Calif., but was
canceled about 1986, sources said.

The aircraft, of which only drawings and small models were made, was to
have been capable of sustained speeds of about Mach 4-5 with an
intercontinental range. It would have been a large aircraft, about the
size of the B-1B bomber, with a long, tapered fuselage.

The USAF indicated that an aircraft could be more responsive than a
satellite if imagery was needed of a location faster than a satellite could
be positioned over it. This argument "still holds", a Pentagon source said.
(See above what Ben Rich has said and also Generals Dugan and Randolph above).

"Let me put it this way," an ex-Pentagon official said. "Many of the same
people working on NASP (also) tried to make this thing work.

While the hypersonic "Aurora" is not a reality, sources and independent
evidence suggest that the AF may indeed operate secret aircraft unfamiliar
to the general public.

The Pentagon revealed the existence of one of these aircraft in a synopsis
of a classified Inspector General audit released last year. The IG is
required to summarize audits that it isn't permitted to publish.

The audit, labeled simply "Report No. 92-110 - Top Secret," was ordered
"to determine if the Program was responsive to contingency requirements
and to evaluate the overall management of the peacetime program."

The synopsis described "the Program" as needing "improvements ... in
procedures for transitioning from peacetime (to wartime) operations and for
approving peacetime reconnaissance flights." In addition, it said that
"the Air Force budget for one aircraft type was overstated by $14.4
million for the six-year period ending in FY 1997."

Pressed repeatedly to explain this secret aircraft, since it would, at
first glance, suggest an "Aurora," a Pentagon official would only advise
the questioner to "think lower-tech."

March 1993 Popular Science cover story: A synopsis of the Sweetman and AW&ST
stories. Nice artwork of the Sweetman + McDonnell Douglas influenced hypersonic
design.

July 15, 1993: Bill Sweetman publishes an interesting book on AURORA entitled
"Aurora - The Pentagon's Secret Hypersonic Spyplane" through Zenith Books
(1-800-826-6600).

Sept, 1993: Testors a plastic scale model aircraft company, releases 3 AURORA
models:
TS0567 XR-7 Thunder Dart (Expected in early Nov/93)
TS0568 SR-75 Penetrator (Mother Ship) (Expected in early Nov/93)
TS4078 SR-75 Penetrator (In Flight Model) (Released in Sept/93)

They also reproduce two satellite photos taken right over Groom Lake,
20 years apart (1968, 1988), on the model instruction sheet. This shows
two things. The location exists and it has been developed quite a bit
since 1968.

The SR-75 shape is very close to the shape in the Aug. 24, 1992
AW&ST mentioned above. Insiders have mentioned: "that's it" and
"that is much closer than the F-19 model was".


- -- End of part 2 of 2 parts.
 
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