CommanderJameson wrote:Hooli, I agree. The gear to make the thing almost certainly exists.
But being a cynical old fart, I have to ask the believers: "Is there an easier, less risky way to get the outcomes of Aurora?"
And the answer is "Yes, use a spy satellite, cuz they're a bit too high up to be shot down, don't need holidays or maintenance (cuz we just launch another one when they break), are there when we want them, and can provide the same imagery at a lower cost and without all that awkward business of flying into other peoples' airspace".
So what, in the presence of already extant spy satellites, does Aurora do that nothing else can?
Spy satellites run on polar orbits. They cross both poles each time.
They run just behind sunrise and just before sunset to have shadows for perspective.
And have very limited manoevre fuel to allow for seasons etc.
During the Falklands war Casper Weinberger used up the manoevere fuel on several KH 11s and KH 12s to give the UK ground intelligence.
Which is why we gave him an honorary knighthood.
So spy satellites are very, very predictable.
Everyone in the miltary knows their timetables.
And can hide at the right time.
Predator, U2 , SR 71, Aurora etc do not run to a timetable. This makes them massively more valuable.
However the main opponent was and is Russia (and the former Soviet Union) with whom we have negotiated compliance measures that mean we can fly ordinary airplanes anywhere we want any time we want. So we don't need spy planes or satellites for this, the biggest job, any more.