For the information on Polyus. This is interesting but I'm thinking more along the lines of military spaceplanes like Blackstar with a nuclear missiles to Earth capability.
Blackstar may well not exist. However it would be interesting to know:
- whether a project ever existed?
- whether and why the project stopped (like FOBS, Polyus and perhaps Aurora)?
- if Blackstar is still a slow research project how quickly could it become a mature, deployable technology?
Why is the Space Shuttle still flying?
It bothers me that 33% (2 out of 6) operational Space Shuttles (STS) have blown up (Challenger then Columbia) and each mission now seems a dangerous drama - YET the US still operates them.
Even the national prestige argument has become more minor because the public is bored by them and a third have failed/crashed.
Why would any country operate a manned device with such a murderous failure rate?
The answer may lie in: the Space Shuttles giving the US unique military capabilities (ie: capabilities Russia and China don't have).
We need to keep in mind the USAF:
- planned military spaceplanes before the Shuttle
- wished to acquire Shuttles (to be launched at Vandenberg) for military purposes, and
- used Shuttles for spy satellite deployment.
There may, however, be a more compelling capability - that is as a first strike orbiting platform for nuclear bombs/missiles to "win" nuclear wars.
Without pressing military capabilities the economics and dangers of the Shuttle have never made sense and never will.
Do you have any information to support/refute these theories?