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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

Paving the Way

Forty-three years ago this month, the USAF/NASA/Martin X-24B became the first lifting body to perform an unpowered precision landing on a concrete runway. The feat was pivotal to convincing NASA officials that landing the Space Shuttle Orbiter in an unpowered state was operationally feasible. Early Space Shuttle Orbiter operational concepts… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

X-15 Flight 91

Fifty-five years ago today, NASA chief research pilot Joseph A. Walker flew X-15 Ship No. 3 (S/N 56-6672) to an altitude of 354,200 feet. This flight would mark the highest altitude ever achieved by the famed hypersonic research vehicle. Carried aloft by NASA’s NB-52A (S/N 52-0003) mothership, Walker’s X-15 was… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Hypersonic Nose Gear Deployment

Fifty-four years ago today, the fabled North American X-15 hit a speed of 3,590 mph (Mach 5.23) in a flight that reached an altitude of 103,300 feet. While decelerating through Mach 4.2, the nose gear of the aircraft unexpectedly deployed in flight. The 114th powered flight of the legendary X-15… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Enterprise First Free Flight

Forty-one years ago this month, the Space Shuttle Orbiter Enterprise successfully completed the first free flight of the Approach and Landing Tests (ALT) Program. NASA Astronauts Fred W. Haise, Jr. and Charles G. “Gordon” Fullerton were at the controls of the pathfinder orbiter vehicle (OV-101). Developers of the Space Shuttle… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

The X-1A’s Highest Flight

Sixty-four years ago this month, USAF Major Arthur W. “Kit” Murray set a new world altitude record of 90,440 feet in the rocket-powered USAF/Bell X-1A. In doing so, Murray reported that he could detect the curvature of the Earth from the apex of his trajectory. The USAF/Bell X-1A was designed… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History
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