Secret Space Plane: “Blackstar”

Aviation Week is reporting that a military secret space-plane project is possibly being shelved after many years. It is also reporting that the two vehicle system(carrier and orbiter) may have been operational during the 1990’s. The project is referred to as “Blackstar”.

XB-70 Carrier Plane

XB-70 Carrier Plane

The space-plane would have been lofted to high altitudes by the XB-70 carrier plane. The XB-70 is capable of speeds up to Mach 3. There were some eyewitness reports cited in the Aviation Week article:

“On Oct. 4, 1998, the carrier aircraft was spotted flying over Salt Lake City at about 2:35 p.m. local time. James Petty, the president of JP Rocket Engine Co., saw a small, highly swept-winged vehicle nestled under the belly of the XB-70-like aircraft. The vehicle appeared to be climbing slowly on a west-southwest heading. The sky was clear enough to see both vehicles’ leading edges, which Petty described as a dark gray or black color.” -Aviation Week

What did the orbiter look like? Maybe the patent by Boeing in 1986 – “Horizontal-takeoff transatmospheric launch system” offers some clues.

Spaceplane being loaded on carrier plane

Spaceplane being loaded on carrier plane

However the eyewitness reports seem to describe an orbiter of a slightly different design. There are more descriptions in the article.

I’ve always been a fan of the Dynasoar design. It will be interesting to see if more is leaked or released on this project.

Read the entire Aviation Week article here.

This entry was posted in Daily Journals, Space news and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Secret Space Plane: “Blackstar”

  1. R2K says:

    This would be amazing if true… The XB70 was always thought to have been retired long ago. Could they really have continued to fly it without anyone noticing?

    I wonder at the value of such a system: A rocket could do the job just as well, unmanned that is.

  2. Ken says:

    Still flying the XB70? Doubtful.
    Flying something like an Xb70 in shape and size? Possible.
    I looked at the illustrations and read enough of the patent to be quite impressed.
    This looks to be the best thought out 2 stage to orbit system I’ve seen to date.
    The mothership is structurally quite complicated, but not so bizarre or difficult as to be undoable. No leaps of technology or materials absolutely required. Rutan’s Spaceship 1 & 2 are stranger by comparison.

    Due to the mission profile the mothership would need more peak thrust, but much less heat protection since the high speed dash to launch would comprise minutes instead of hours as with the XB70.

  3. Pingback: Pilots

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