The following is not classified.
In 1976, the US Air Force and Lockheed Martin's Skunkworks introduced the prototype for what would become the F-117 Nighthawk stealthfighter. In 1977
it would fly for the first time at Area 51 of Nellis Air Force Base.
It was not until 1988, that the F-117 Nighthawk would be revealed to the public.
In 1957, the US Air Force and Boeing, began developmental work on the X-20 Dyna-Soar, a hypersonic multi-role combat transatmospheric craft.
Technology developed in the X-15 hypersonic research aircraft program, began in 1954, would be used to create the X-20.
Also in 1957, Lockheed Martin's Skunkworks would begin work on the Archangel Program to replace the U-2. Archangel 12 or the A-12, predecessor of the
SR-71 Blackbird, would be chosen in 1959 to replace the U-2. Like the stealthfighter prototype, the A-12's 1962 shakedown flight was at Area 51 of
Nellis Air Force Base.
In 1962, the X-20 was revealed to the public.
In 1962, a hypersonic drone, the Lockheed D-21, similar to the X-15, was developed to piggyback on the A-12.
In 1964, the SR-71 Blackbird was revealed to the public.
In 1965, development began for a hypersonic replacement for the SR-71 and the A-12, based on the X-20 "boost glide" design codenamed Rheinberry.
Even though the Rheinberry project was supposed to have been cancelled in 1967. The prototype and its design has never been revealed to the public and
to this day remains classified. The only thing ever declassified was the demonstrator engines, the Pratt & Whitney XLR-129, which was said to have
250,000 lbs of thrust.
The Space Shuttle Orbiter, has a liftoff weight of 240,000 lbs and its three main engines have 400,000 lbs of thrust each.
The Rheinberry, if comparable in size and weight to the X-20 Dyna Soar, whose liftoff weight was around 12,000 lbs, should have easily been able to
achieve orbit with the XLR-129 engine.
What does all of this mean?
It means we developed a multi role combat spacecraft in 1957.
edit on 12/1/11 by MikeboydUS because: Fnord!