This plane goes to 11.
July 14, 2009 2:20 AM Subscribe
The North American X-15 Rocket Plane
posted by iamabot (47 comments total)
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, which turns 50 this year, flew faster and higher than any manned rocket powered aircraft in history excepting the space shuttle.
With a range of only 280 miles, it achieved speeds exceeding 4500mph and flew at an altitude exceeding 60miles, becoming the first airplane to cross Mach 4, 5 and 6. It is still a record holder
for manned rocket powered craft.
Launched from underneath the wing
of a B-52 Stratofortress
at 45000 feet flying at 500mph, the plane would accelerate for one to two minutes with the remaining 10-15 minutes of the flight a glide to earth and a 200mph landing.
was from a time where rocketry was cutting edge engineering, where the experimental X-plane
aircraft series provided valuable research
that was later brought in to the space program. Some
of the pilots
in the program would go on in their careers to walk on the moon, another
woudn't leave the research program alive.
Behind the scenes were dozens of engineers, working without modern computers or models, with materials that were invented specifically for the project, on a concept that was to push modern aircraft engineering to the next level. These engineers and the support staff would go on to join the technical team at NASA
and work on the evolving space program.