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

rst at ai.mit.edu < rst at ai.mit.edu > on > Tue Mar 7 15:16:59 PST 2006

Ian Andrew Bell (FoRK) writes:
 > The real question is:  If they're willing to scrap a two-stage-to- 
 > orbit system having previously scrapped the SR-71, what's taking its  
 > place?
 > It could be that there simply is no further requirement to be hard-to- 
 > hit, or to be unseen, given the economics of maintaining exotic  
 > reconnaissance systems.  It could be that the political fallout of  
 > having a Global Hawk (which is pilotless) shot down isn't  
 > substantial, and thus doesn't justify the cost of more exotic programs.

Or it could be that the "stealth" aspect is taking priority over
"speed".  Imagine a network of very high-altitude, highly stealthy
drones, each capable of staying in the air for a week or more, but not
particularly fast.  You could keep several dozen of these things up in
the air, stationed at various points over the globe, and have one of
them pretty near whatever you needed to look at whenever you needed to
look, without them needing to be nearly as fast as the Blackbird.

The Hiller Museum in Redwood City has something like this --- the
Condor drone, made by Boeing, which could operate above 65,000 feet
for several days.  That was in the '80s, IIRC...


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