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NF-104A Zoom Climb Record

Fifty-five years ago today, USAF Major Robert W. Smith zoomed the rocket-powered USAF/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

The First Reusable Spaceship

Thirty-seven years ago this month, 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

First to Mach 2

Sixty-five 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

X-43A Maximum Speed Record

Fourteen years ago today, the NASA X-43A scramjet-powered flight research vehicle reached a record speed of over 6,600 mph (Mach 9.68). In doing so, the X-43A eclipsed its own record speed of Mach 6.83 (4,600 mph) and became the fastest air breathing aircraft of all time. In 1996, NASA initiated… Read More

Posted in Aerospace, History

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
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