[FoRK] archives: blackstar, the supposed two-stage spaceplane

Kevin Elliott < K-Elliott at wiu.edu > on > Tue Mar 7 11:20:11 PST 2006

At 09:24 -0800  on  3/7/06, Ian Andrew Bell (FoRK) wrote:
>The SR-71 was designed after Francis Gary Powers got shot down in his
>U2 as a hard-to-hit Mach 3+ spyplane which could penetrate the Soviet
>Union, outrun fighters and missiles, and be a little bit stealthy.
>Standard procedure for Blackbird pilots when a missile locked on to
>them was to hit the gas and out-accelerate the missile.  The SR-71
>was totally uneconomical and was stood down in 1989 but has been used
>intermittently by NASA for high-altitude research, MACH testing,
>etc.  Other systems like the supposed Black Star would have similar
>benefits to the SR-71, flying so high as to be practically impossible
>to hit and being flexible and unpredictable; but with the added
>benefit that it likely wouldn't be detected by most of the nations it
>was interloping on.

The SR-71 was built to solve a particular problem- how do I avoid 
being shot down?  Solving the problem today we arrive at a TOTALLY 
different solution.  The SR-71 is ANYTHING but stealth.  It's big, 
incredibly hot, and was built long before stealth was well understood 
or possible.  It's REPEATEDLY been shot at.  During the 80's it was 
used to do damage assessment over  Libya, and came under heavy SAM 
fire.  It's design was significantly more complicated that "out-run 
the missile"- one of the major roles for the second man in the 
cockpit was radar analysis and jamming to avoid missile attack. 
Working the physics, it should be pretty obvious that "out-running" 
the missile was a losing proposition in the long run- eventually 
integrating SAM radar, creative firing patterns, and better missile 
design would have lead to someone shooting it down.

So what replaced it?  My money is on something incredibly stealthy. 
If you compare the F-117 and the B-2 bomber it's very clear that the 
US has a VERY deep and detailed understanding of stealth.  A aircraft 
the size of the F-117 (or slightly bigger), but with the stealth 
technology of the B-2 would be quite invisible.  At the very least I 
don't see any reason why their wouldn't be a spy version of either 
aircraft (F-117 for cost and size, B-2 for range and altitude). 
Either aircraft would be superior to the SR-71.  The only thing 
better than real time photography is real time photography no one 
knows you have.
Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud.
After a while, you realize the pig is enjoying it.
Kevin Elliott   <mailto:kelliott at mac.com>
AIM/iChatAV: kelliott at mac.com  (video chat available)

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