Aurora (SR-91 Aurora) is the popular name for a hypothesised United States reconnaissance aircraft, alleged to be capable of hypersonic flight.
According to the hypothesis, the Aurora was developed in the 1980s or 1990s as a replacement for the aging and expensive SR-71 Blackbird. A British Ministry of Defence report from May 2006, released under the Freedom of Information Act, refers to USAF priority plans to produce a Mach 4–6 highly supersonic vehicle. In September 2007, DARPA and the USAF signed a memo of understanding to build a Mach-6 unmanned aircraft called "Blackswift" under the Force Application and Launch from Continental United States (FALCON) program, but that does not explain the earlier reports. It is believed that the Aurora project was canceled due to a shift from spyplanes to high-tech unmanned aerial vehicles and reconnaissance satellites which can do a similar job as a spyplane, but with less risk of casualties or loss of highly expensive, sensitive equipment.
Unconfirmed reports of Aurora's existence first surfaced in 1986. Popular Science magazine conjectured about the airplane's likely design in its November 1988 issue (right, middle).
Sounds: Most of the evidence for Aurora's existence is anecdotal. Among these tales are the reports of unusual sonic booms above Southern California, dating back to mid and late 1991. On at least five occasions, the booms were recorded by at least 25 of the 220 US Geological Survey sensors across Southern California used to pinpoint earthquake epicenters.
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