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Back in the Saddle

Twenty-nine years ago today, the Space Shuttle Discovery and her five man crew landed on Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base to successfully complete the Return-to-Flight (RTF) mission of STS-26. The flight signaled a resumption of the Space Shuttle Program after a 32-month hiatus in manned spaceflight resulting… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Final Flight: Bell X-2

Sixty-one 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

Hypersonic ASSET

Fifty-four years ago today, the first ASSET flight test vehicle (ASV-1) successfully flew 1,600 nm down the Eastern Test Range (ETR) following launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Boosted atop a Thor launch vehicle, the hypersonic glider reached a maximum velocity of 10,900 mph (Mach 12). The Aerothermodynamic/Elastic Structural Systems Environmental… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Strange Wings: XP-56 Black Bullet

Seventy-four years ago this month, flight testing of the USAAF/Northrop XP-56 Black Bullet commenced at Army Air Base, Muroc in California. Northrop Chief Test Pilot John W. Myers was at the controls of the experimental pursuit aircraft. The XP-56 (X for Experimental, P for Pursuit) was an attempt at producing… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Exceptional Airmanship

Thirty-four years ago today, the valiant crew of a USAF KC-135 Stratotanker performed multiple aerial refuelings of a stricken USAF F-4E Phantom II over the North Atlantic Ocean. Conducted under extremely perilous flight conditions, the remarkable actions of the aerial tanker’s crew allowed the F-4E to remain aloft long enough… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

A Distant Echo

Fifty-seven years ago this month, the United States successfully launched the Echo 1A passive communications satellite into Earth orbit. The 100-foot diameter balloon was among the largest objects ever to orbit the Earth. A plethora of earth-orbiting communication satellites provide for a global connectivity that is commonplace today. Such was… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

X-15 Maximum Apex Mission

Fifty-four 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

The Big Bang

Fifty-three years ago yesterday, 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

GT-5 – Eight Days or Bust

Fifty-two years ago this month, NASA astronauts Leroy Gordon “Gordo” Cooper and Charles M. “Pete” Conrad set a new spaceflight endurance record during the flight of Gemini 5. It was the third of ten (10) missions in the historic Gemini spaceflight series. The motto for the mission was “Eight Days… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

Lifting Body Precision Landing

Forty-two years ago this week, the USAF/NASA/Martin X-24B became the first lifting body to make 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