Cunningham explained that the flight profile for ISINGLASS would be unlike anything ever built before. “It would be launched, say, off the coast of Spain. It would promptly ascend to 125,000 feet [38,100 meters] under throttling, and you’d point it in the general direction of east, let’s say, and pour the coal to it, and then shut it off. It would go tootling along at roughly Mach 22,” just below orbital velocity, he said. “You’d take yourself all kinds of pictures all the way across Russia,” and then recover at a classified location, probably Groom Lake in the Nevada desert. “Damn near circumnavigate the globe, you know,” Cunningham added.
Reminds me a little bit of the X-33. I saw the post earlier about your book; you got me beat. I have a signed copy of Sled Driver that I will part with only when I am in the grave... maybe. _Sled_driver_ sits on my bookshelf next to a copy of 'The Right Stuff signed by 10 of the men who landed on the moon (I've missed Irwin and Scott). come to think of it, I should probably will those books to the local college or library so that they don't fade into dust when I am gone.
They built the SR-71 without CNC, without CAD programs, without calculators (slide rules, my god does anyone else on this site know what those are?), without 3D printing, and custom made wind tunnels that were considered National Secrets in the same line as nuclear weapons data. This, to me at least, is what makes the plane a legend.