The Aurora is an alleged hypersonic spy plane developed in the 1980s or the 1990s, but currently there is no hard evidence to support its existence, even though many people have reported sightings.
The term "Aurora" originates from a blacked out report where "Aurora" was left available, and for which the visible content matched expectations of such a spyplane. The plane is reportedly the successor to the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.
The name Aurora is not assured to have ever been connected to this putative spyplane, as other sources indicate that the Aurora program was a different program that appeared in the report, and the spyplane used a different codename. Aviation Week and Space Technology first reported the news that the term "Aurora" was inadvertently released in the 1985 US budget, as an allocation of $455 Million for aircraft construction in fiscal year 1987 . However, Lockheed Skunk Works engineer Ben Rich stated in a memoir published in the 1990s that "Aurora" was the budget codename for the Advanced Technology Bomber (ATB) competition that led to the B-2 Spirit. However "Aurora" has been the name that has entered popular culture in connection with this plane.
The capabilities of the plane differ depending on the source. The capabilities widely vary by source, from subsonic, through hypersonic to suborbital. Photographs of the "string-of-pearls" jet trail are frequently associated with this spyplane in the aviation and military popular press. The putative hypersonic Aurora is referred to as the SR-91 Aurora.
All named specification are pure speculation, they are based on assumptions on how a SR-71 successor could perform.
- Replacement for: SR-71 Blackbird
- Maximum speed: Mach 5-6
- Max altitude: 135,000 feet (possibly 110,000 feet)
- Crusing altitude: 90,000 feet (Possibly 100,000)
- Powerplant: Speculated to be either a SCRAMjet or a Pulse Wave Detonation Engine (evidenced by the "Doughnuts-on-a-Rope" contrail it is believed to leave behind)
- Crew: Unmanned
- Max thrust: unknown
In 1989 Chris Gibson was at the north sea and saw the figure of a black triangle refueled by a KC-135. It then flew away. Chris Gibson is good at identifying military aircraft but he did not know what this was.
In 2006, the History Channel was playing a show called "Alien History of Planet Earth". In the channel a person called Nick Cook showed a picture taken by satellite of an unknown flying object. It started in the air in nevada and flew away. The speed of it was mach 10 (7000 mph) this also gave rumors that it was kept at Area 51 or Edwards AFB.
- Rich, Ben.R.; Janos, Leo (1996). Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed (First ed.). Back Bay Book.