To add to my last post: if we want to posit that this was the result of a military test vehicle, I think it might represent some kind of effort
towards a ballistic sub-orbiter 'hopper'. Something along the lines of Bono's* SASSTO
I wish I
could make a stronger argument by suggesting it was a response to the debacle that resulted from Operation Eagle Claw, but the fact these events
occurred in the same year makes for a really, really implausible development timeline.
Now that being said, cryogenic fuels and rough-field military vehicles don't really mix. What I know of nuclear thermal rocket development rules out
TIMBERWIND - that program came after this and lasted until around 1992 I think, and it was just on paper. Now, DUMBO's thrust to weight advantage over
NERVA might be worth considering, but if they did have a NTR hopper, they wouldn't be flying it around Texas. That's what Jackass Flats in Nevada is
I would suggest...
1. SSTO/Hopper's tend to work best if you have a high ISP motor.
2. Cryogenic fuels are out.
3. The witnesses seem to have had medical consequences as a result of the experience.
From this, I would think that our mysterious flying machine was running off a tripropellant, possibly air-augmented, rocket engine that was burning
LOX, kerosene, and borane 'zip fuel'. Now the borane fuel program in the 1950's wasn't exactly a successful program...but if you really wanted
something like I've proposed it might be worth a look. Borane fuels (I think they also looked at beryllium - but I'd have to dig through my aerospace
books/pdfs) also turned out to be pretty nasty things, and the combustion products were just as unpleasant.
Cash and Landrum might have been suffering from exposure to the toxic exhaust, rather than radiation. This would account for the lack of residual
radiation (from fuel element corrosion and neutron activation) on the highway. Clean up could have been accomplished by deliberate washing, or natural
weather. Traces might (I ain't an expert on pollution) still be present at the site, and if this was the case, might be uncovered via sampling at
regular intervals between the reference points that the witnesses provided. I wouldn't put much stock in an aircraft carrier as a point of
origin/destination for the weird flying thingie, because something like this would have leaked ages ago. Plus the toxic exhaust -> bad news for the
enlisted guys on board, and it would be bad for the aircraft on deck (although NBC decontamination via wash-down would have been easy I suppose) -
plus the deck itself would need to be re-enforced or something because rocket exhaust would tear it up/melt it. The helicopters could have been range
safety/crash site security/decontamination/rescue, and I'd venture that the number was probably overestimated by a factor of ten or so. It was dark
and most of their attention would have been on the Weird Flying Thing(tm).
I want to make clear that I am not an engineer, or have a background in STEM. I'm just a history major with my primary interests in military and space
history - and a closet interest in esoteric things. I'd really appreciate it if JimOberg would tear my little thesis here to pieces, as he's the guy
with my dream job.
He'd also probably know more about any work done with tripropellant engines, which the Russians seem to have been more keen on
then the states. I just figure that this is the best match for what the investigation seems to suggest if we accept a human origin for this Weird
*I've had a soft spot for Bono since I ran into his ROMBUS proposal.
edit on 12013f3002America/Chicago9 by 1ofthe9 because: (no reason