a reply to: penroc3
Thanks for sharing the info on Responsive Access, Small Cargo, Affordable Launch (RASCAL). It’s odd their renderings feature a single-tail craft
with a dorsal launch bay. The risk of a separation collision seems exacerbated by this layout. There are so many concepts online of TSTO-type launch
systems for affordable, small satellite deployment. Just today Aviation Week’s podcast on the electrification of aerospace features a similar system
(kind of looks familiar with the canards):
One thing most of these launchers and related concepts have in common is that they are fairly large B-52, L1011, RASCAL, Stratolaunch, Buzzard,
whatever. The higher and faster they can fly the better.
A few themes are jumping out. First, the oddly authoritative wiki on Black Star states that “According to one declassified Rand Corp. report, two of
the three vehicles failed to achieve their full flight envelope (i.e. couldn't make orbit), while the third, an "assisted SSTO", did achieve orbital
capability.” Either this a fabrication, disiminformation, or perhaps “assisted SSTO” means it gets refueled in mid air like the Black Horse:
That project is consistent with various eye-witness reports including U.K. sightings, and an odd rendering floating around the net of a NASA F-18
escorting such an airframe that I can’t find right now.
The SDI connection seems to be a compelling one: www.stealthskater.com...
“Brilliant Buzzard was most likely intended to orbit small satellites to replace, augment, or reinforce existing satellite systems in wartime.
Orbiting imaging or radar recon satellites would be unlikely -- they're just too big. Since 1990, the number of National Security Agency signals
intelligence satellites launched has been unusually small. These small (500-1500 pound) spacecraft have in the past "hitched" rides on expendable
vehicles launching other defense payloads in place of ballast. NSA tries to lob these little things any chance they can get. Yet there have been very
few known to be up in the past 5 years. It is not unlikely that they are being orbited by Brilliant Buzzard --NSA would be particularly attracted to
the launch on demand capabilities of the Buzzard, giving them an added element of surprise. This would work particularly well with the Talon Sword
program to use satellites as "Wild Weasels" -- guiding HARMs (anti-SAM radar missiles) launched by Prowler aircraft below the radar horizon with
direct satellite feeds from NSA SIGINT assets.” There are lots of sightings of a B-70/SR-3/SR-75-like aircraft, including RidgeRunner’s.
Finally, there is the “Aurora” SR-71 successor connection - and who cares what it’s actually called (call it the YF-121a Unicorn Smurf so we
don’t have to hear all the “there is no Aurora” stuff). There is an interesting tidbit from the National Interest article (and in others):
“In the late 1990s, journalist Nick Cook of Jane’s Defence Weekly traveled to Lockheed’s famed Skunk Works to interview its head, Jack Gordon,
and tour the facility. He later recounted a mysterious incident that left him scratching his head.
“Just before I left the [Skunk Works] building, I stopped in front of a large chart on the wall of the lobby area,” Cook wrote. “I hadn’t
noticed it on the way in. It proudly illustrated the lineage of every Skunk Works aircraft since the XP-80. Past the picture of the U-2, past the
SR-71 Blackbird and the F-117A Stealth Fighter, past the YF-22 and DarkStar, and there was something called ‘Astra.'”
“Sitting at the top of the tree, Astra looked like an ultra-high-speed reconnaissance aircraft,” Cook added, “every pundit’s dream of how
Aurora ought to look.”
Cook asked Lockheed’s press representative what “Astra” was, and weeks later was told it was a 30-year-old “concept for a high-speed
So perhaps the YF-121a Unicorn Smurf is Astra.
All of this is pretty consistent with the different ATS threads and ear- and eye-witness reports of strange sonic booms, fast moving maneuvering
lights, odd-looking little space shuttles, super XB-70s, etc.
Connecting the dots, maybe the Buzzard was designed as part of the 80s SDI/Star Wars push to launch small satellites in unpredictable-to-the
Soviet’s orbits with rapid turnaround times. In addition to this capability, maybe it found new life in the 90s and 2000s post as a launch platform
for hypersonic test articles, boost gliders, and suborbital ISR and rapid strike platforms (the F-15 pilot’s sighting). It would seem that post 9-11
there would be renewed interest in rapid strike. Perhaps this is the XB-176 program referred to in that old ATS post with some elements corroborated
Anonymous ATS: “Yes! this plane does exist, I was in the USAF, a security specialist, and me and three other men I served with were tasked to guard
it, summer of 89... We did get to eat chow with the flight crew. There were 4 of them, pilot, Co-pilot, WSO(weapons systems officer) and NAV. Wore
blank flight suits, and were trucked out to the hanger in what I would call space suits...but dark grey in color. Once at chow the pilot mentioned
that they "could" go into "space" what I would guess now is Low Earth Orbit, and drop nukes anywhere in the world in 40 minutes. Basically we guarded
entry into and out of the hanger... Our rules of engagement was an exchange badge system, unauthorized entry engagement was explained to us as "shoot
to kill with extreme prejudice"... did this same thing four times with the bread box...another experimental plane, the other was what I believe to be
a 117 but it was camo color, the last one was this plane, XB 176 I think was the designation.”
Intelgirl: “There are things (I will not point at specifically) which you mention in your post that ring true with things I am aware of. Your
particular story has factual information that people unfamiliar with projects dealing with national assets on the Nellis Range would not know.”
Maybe today the Buzzard is testing hypersonic technologies in support of the SR-72 program. It was probably built by Boeing with support from lots of
other major defense contractors at the time. Maybe it’s our Oregon mystery bird:
Astra sounds like a Lockheed project and your stereotypical Mach 5, high altitude, air breathing design. Probably nothing to do with the Buzzard but
confusing matters. A few other ATS Misc:
“in 1979 I heard about a SR-77 which was a different version of the SR-71. It had ablative shielding for heat protection and it was supposed to be
white. It used the same stuff as the X-15 that was white from ablative heat shielding”
There are some real common themes out there among the various reports. At any rate, many have worked on flying launch systems for small satellites.
Or, the OP’s sighting could be a Klingon Bird of Prey - but there aren’t humpback whales in TN.
edit on 15-7-2018 by TheHans because:
(no reason given)
edit on 15-7-2018 by TheHans because: (no reason given)