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Space Twins Triumphant

Fifty-two years ago this month, NASA’s pioneering spaceflight program, Project Gemini, was brought to a successful conclusion with the 4-day flight of Gemini XII. Remarkably, the mission was the tenth Gemini flight in 20 months. Boosted to Earth orbit by a two-stage Titan II launch vehicle, Gemini XII Command Pilot… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

X-15A-2: Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

Fifty-one years ago this month, USAF Major William J. “Pete” Knight piloted the fabled USAF/North American X-15A-2 rocket-powered hypersonic flight research aircraft to a record speed of 4,520 mph – roughly a mile and a quarter per second. This mark is approximately 50 percent faster than the highest speed ever… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Wild Ride

Sixty-four years ago this week, the USAF/Douglas X-3 Stiletto experimental flight research aircraft encountered a violent dynamic instability during a flight test maneuver. NACA test pilot Joseph A. Walker was able to successfully recover the aircraft from this flight upset known as Inertial Roll Coupling. The X-3 was designed to… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

The Flight of Sigma Seven

Fifty-six years ago this month, Mercury Astronaut Walter M. Schirra, Jr. orbited the Earth six (6) times in his Mercury spacecraft code-named Sigma 7. The near-perfect 9-hour spaceflight was the United States’ third manned orbital mission flown within a period of eight (8) months. Project Mercury was United States’ first… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Triple Sonic Great White Bird

Fifty-three years ago this month, the USAF/North American XB-70A Valkyrie reached three times the speed of sound for the first time. This historic aviation achievement took place on the 18th anniversary of the breaking of the sound barrier by the USAF/Bell XS-1. When it comes to legendary aircraft, aviation enthusiasts… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Apollo 7: Return to Flight

Fifty years ago this month, NASA successfully conducted the first manned Apollo Earth-orbital mission with the flight of Apollo 7. This mission was a critically-important milestone along the path to the first manned lunar landing in July 1969. The launch of Apollo 7 took place from Launch Complex 34 at… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Final Flight: Bell X-2, Ship 1

Sixty-two years ago today, the No. 1 USAF/Bell X-2 rocket-powered flight research aircraft reached a record speed of 2,094 mph with USAF Captain Milburn G. “Mel” Apt at the controls. However, triumph quickly turned to tragedy when the aircraft departed controlled flight, crashed to destruction, and Apt perished. Mel Apt’s… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, Final Flight, History

F-107A First Flight

Sixty-two years ago this month, the USAF/North American F-107A aircraft flew for the first time. The Mach 2-capable fighter-bomber went supersonic on the type’s maiden flight. The F-107A was designed, developed and tested by North American Aviation (NAA) in the mid-1950’s. With it, the contractor hoped to satisfy Tactical Air… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

First Satellite Intercept Mission

Thirty-three years ago today, the USAF/LTV ASM-135 anti-satellite missile successfully intercepted a target satellite orbiting 300 nautical miles above surface of the Earth. The historic test was the first and only time that an aircraft-launched missile successfully engaged and destroyed an orbiting spacecraft. The United States began testing anti-satellite missiles… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

The First Spaceman

Sixty-two years ago to the day, the rocket-powered USAF/Bell X-2 aircraft established a new altitude record when the vehicle soared to 126,200 feet above sea level. This historic accomplishment took place on the penultimate mission of the type’s troubled 20-flight aeronautical research program. The X-2 was the successor to Bell’s… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History