The magazine Aviation Week & Space Technology is reporting that the United States may be mothballing a two-stage spaceplane system that may have been designed to replace the famed SR-71 Blackbird. According to the article, the spaceplane was probably designed during the 1980s and made operational during the 1990s. Why it is being retired, like its very existence, is shrouded in mystery, but the magaizine suggests that it is probably either for cost or performance reasons.
The article admits that there is no hard evidence that the system even exists, but offers some fairly strong circumstantial evidence. While it is very tempting to take this article with a large grain of salt, if the plane actually does exist, it would explain why the Pentagon was willing to kill the Blackbird, and also why they aparently are not too (publicly) worried over the impending end of the shuttle program as well. That being said, if this program exists, and if it is now being mothballed, the question is- do they already have a replacement? Captain Ed thinks so, and I agree with him. Despite the pathological leakinesess of the US government, we (hopefully) still have a FEW secrets. And this one would be a doozy.
Hat tip to Captain Ed Morissey.
CORRECTION: The magazine is called Aviation Week and Space Technology. My mistake on initally (and erroneously) identifying it as Aviation Weekly. Thanks to Expat Leo for the correction.