Before you read about the X-15 I wanted to let you know you can see several vintage snapshots my father took of seaplanes in the late 1940s and early 50s by visiting my other site, Tattered and Lost Photographs.
And now...the X-15, courtesy of the National Biscuit Company late 1950s trading cards.
Click on either image to see it larger.
The North American X-15 was a rocket-powered aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the X-plane series of experimental aircraft. The X-15 set speed and altitude records in the early 1960s, reaching the edge of outer space and returning with valuable data used in aircraft and spacecraft design. As of 2012, the X-15 holds the official world record for the fastest speed ever reached by a manned rocket-powered aircraft.
During the X-15 program, 13 different flights by eight pilots met the USAF spaceflight criteria by exceeding the altitude of 50 miles (80 km) thus qualifying the pilots for astronaut status. The USAF pilots qualified for USAF astronaut wings, while the civilian pilots were awarded NASA astronaut wings in 2005, 35 years after the last X-15 flight.
Of all the X-15 missions, two flights (by the same pilot) qualified as space flights per the international (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) definition of a spaceflight by exceeding 100 kilometers (62.1 mi, 328,084 ft) in altitude.
- Crew: one
- Length: 50 ft 9 in (15.45 m)
- Wingspan: 22 ft 4 in (6.8 m)
- Height: 13 ft 6 in (4.12 m)
- Wing area: 200 ft2 (18.6 m2)
- Empty weight: 14,600 lb (6,620 kg)
- Loaded weight: 34,000 lb (15,420 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 34,000 lb (15,420 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Thiokol XLR99-RM-2 liquid-fuel rocket engine, 70,400 lbf at 30 km (313 kN)
- Maximum speed: Mach 6.72 (4,520 mph, 7,274 km/h)
- Range: 280 mi (450 km)
- Service ceiling: 67 mi (108 km, 354,330 ft)
- Rate of climb: 60,000 ft/min (18,288 m/min)
- Wing loading: 170 lb/ft2 (829 kg/m2)
- Thrust/weight: 2.07
Next time...U. S. Army Mohawk Turbo-Prop Airplane