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World Altitude Record

Fifty-eight years ago this week, USAF Captain Joe B. Jordan zoomed a modified USAF/Lockheed F-104C Starfighter to a world altitude record of 103,395.5 feet above mean sea level. The flight originated from and recovered to the Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC) at Edwards Air Force Base, California. On Tuesday,… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Boom and Zoom

Fifty-four years ago today, USAF Major Robert W. Smith zoomed the rocket-powered Lockheed NF-104A to an unofficial world record altitude of 120,800 feet. This mark still stands as the highest altitude ever achieved by a United States aircraft from a runway take-off. A zoom maneuver is one in which aircraft… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Earth Entry Milestone

Sixty years ago this month, the first ablative nose cone to survive entry into the Earth’s atmosphere was formally presented to the American public. President Dwight D. Eisenhower displayed the recovered nose cone during a national television broadcast from the Oval Office. An object making a hypersonic entry into the… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

First to Mach Two

Sixty-four years ago today, the USN/Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket became the first aircraft to fly at twice the speed of sound. This historic event took place in the skies over Edwards Air Force Base, California. The D-558-II was a United States Navy (USN) X-aircraft and first flew in February of 1948.… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

First Reusable Space Vehicle

Thirty-six years ago this week, the Space Shuttle Columbia completed the second orbital space mission of the Space Shuttle Program. Designated STS-2, the mission marked the first reuse of a space vehicle for manned orbital flight. America’s early manned spacecraft – Mercury, Gemini and Apollo – were single-flight vehicles. That… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

X-15: Beyond Mach 6

Fifty-six years ago today, the USAF/NASA/North American X-15 became the first manned aircraft to exceed Mach 6. United States Air Force test pilot Major Robert M. White was at the controls of the legendary hypersonic flight research aircraft. The North American X-15 was the first manned hypersonic aircraft. It was… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Gemini XII

Fifty-one years ago this month, NASA’s pioneering manned 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 spaceflight in 20 months. Boosted to Earth orbit by a two-stage Titan II launch vehicle, Gemini XII Command… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

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

Posted in Aerospace, History

Joining the Fleet

Thirty-two years ago this month, the Space Shuttle Atlantis was launched on its maiden spaceflight. Known as Mission STS-51J, the flight made Atlantis the fourth member of the Space Shuttle Orbiter fleet to reach Earth orbit. Mission STS-51J marked the twenty-first orbital flight of the Space Shuttle Program. The primary… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Through the Sonic Barrier

Seventy years ago this week, the rocket-powered USAF/Bell XS-1 experimental aircraft exceeded the speed of sound when it reached a maximum speed of 700 mph (Mach 1.06) at 45,000 feet. Bell Aircraft Corporation of Buffalo, New York built three copies of the XS-1 under contract to the United States Army… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History
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