For 16 years, Aviation Week & Space Technology has investigated myriad sightings of a two-stage-to-orbit system that could place a small military spaceplane in orbit. Considerable evidence supports the existence of such a highly classified system, and top Pentagon officials have hinted that it's "out there," but iron-clad confirmation that meets AW&ST standard has remained elusive. Now facing the possibility that this innovative "Blackstar" system may have been shelved, we elected to share what we've learned about it with our readers, rather than let an intriguing technological breakthrough vanish into "black world" history, known to only a few insiders. U.S. intelligence agencies may have quietly mothballed a highly classified two-stage-to-orbit spaceplane system designed in the 1980s for reconnaissance, satellite-insertion and, possibly, weapons delivery. It could be a victim of shrinking federal budgets strained by war costs, or it may not have met performance or operational goals.
This two-vehicle "Blackstar" carrier/orbiter system may have been declared operational during the 1990s.
Read the rest here.
During the 1990s, the so-called Aurora program was tauted as the reason that the SR-71 was retired: they had a replacement system up and running. I was one of the people online that was debunking that such a program existed. *glyph of potential amused embarassment* I was still right...the official reason that the SR-71 was retired was that the satellites were good enough. If the USAF had an on-demand delivery of satellites and a spaceplane, then I was technically - and so were the generals stating - right. It was a 'satellite,' being an orbiter and such, then its more an amused situation than an embarassing one.
Note, Avleak has been rather wrong before, so just because they have a solid case, it doens't mean that they are right. I am rather stoked if this is true, though.
PS My daughter has nada as far as her name and this aircraft, damnit. Just cuz I was a stealth aircraft junkie in the past....:P:P:P