History of Hypersonics — The North American X-15

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Neil Armstrong posing with the North American X-15. Credit NASA.
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X-15 in flight shortly after being released from the B-52 mothership. Source NASA

The Early Days of the Space Program

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Cutaway drawing of the North American X-15 showing the various components of the aircraft. Credits: NASA Illustrations

Solving the High-Speed Overheating Problem with Minimum Overweight

The Flight Test Campaigns

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Moments after being launched from a B-52 bomber. Source NASA

“[The launch] was always a surprise, no matter how many times you did it. You had the feeling that the X-15 would explode once off the hooks … We pilots didn’t have much time to lose after launch. You had to get the engine to start or abort the flight. The problem was, you had to do it in a matter of seconds because you were falling fast — about 12,000ft/min. “

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X-15 landing on dry lakebed. Observe the skids of the main landing gear. Source NASA

Additional Resources

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Aerospace Engineer at Airbus Defence and Space with a great passion for Technology and Science.

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