Monday, March 06, 2006

Secret program for single-staged airplane-launched satellites? The Blackstar or Brilliant Buzzard project

A look into the supposed "Blackstar" aka "Brilliant Buzzard" or single-stage airplane-launched rocket is available at

Launching from a high altitude is great because the vast majority of the rocket's energy is wasted early in its trajectory: Moving and accelerating a very heavy mass at ground level through a thick atmosphere. The Pegasus Rocket is an example of a working design of this type.

Aviation Week and Space Technology's story on the project.

Image source: NASA/Jim Ross


Gordon said...


I wrote about this Sunday on my blog AeroGo. You might want to check it out.

Benjamin said...

AW&ST is, of course, sometimes called "Aviation Leak & Space Mythology," so let's all take this with a grain of salt. Still, how cool would it be?

I've also heard fringe rumors of a similar plane called "XB-70 Aurora," since it looked like an XB-70 but had the "black" nature of Aurora. This could be the same thing. AW&ST's artist's impression of Blackstar looked like an XB-70 (down to the air intakes!) with upturned wingtips.

John said...

Exactly; there is a lot of supposition in the AW&ST article, but that's a big part of what makes it fun to think about. For an in-depth analysis, I'd recommend Dwayne Day's recent article on The Space Review at:

He evidently doesn't think much of the author of the AW&ST story (for reasons he points out), but has some good points about problems with self-consistency in the story.