The Info List - X-15

--- Advertisement ---

The North American X-15
North American X-15
was a hypersonic rocket-powered aircraft operated by the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as part of the X-plane
series of experimental aircraft. The X-15 set speed and altitude records in the 1960s, reaching the edge of outer space and returning with valuable data used in aircraft and spacecraft design. The X-15's official world record for the highest speed ever recorded by a manned, powered aircraft, set in October 1967 when William J. Knight
William J. Knight
flew Mach 6.72 at 102,100 feet (31,120 m), a speed of 4,520 miles per hour (7,274 km/h; 2,021 m/s), has remained unchallenged as of April 2018.[1][2] During the X-15 program, 13 flights by eight pilots met the Air Force spaceflight criterion by exceeding the altitude of 50 miles (80 km), thus qualifying these pilots as being astronauts. The Air Force pilots qualified for astronaut wings immediately, while the civilian pilots were eventually awarded NASA
astronaut wings in 2005, 35 years after the last X-15 flight. The only Navy pilot in the X-15 program never took the aircraft above the requisite 50 mile altitude and so as a result, never earned astronaut wings.[3][4]


1 Design and development

1.1 Cockpit and pilot systems 1.2 Propulsion 1.3 Wedge tail and hypersonic stability

2 Operational history 3 Current static displays

3.1 Mockups 3.2 Stratofortress mother ships

4 Record flights

4.1 Highest flights 4.2 Fastest recorded flights

5 Pilots 6 Specifications 7 See also 8 References 9 External links

Design and development[edit]

X-15 after igniting rocket engine

X-15A2, with sealed ablative coating, external fuel tanks, and ramjet dummy test

The X-15 was based on a concept study from Walter Dornberger
Walter Dornberger
for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
(NACA) for a hypersonic research aircraft.[5] The requests for proposal (RFPs) were published on 30 December 1954 for the airframe and on 4 February 1955 for the rocket engine. The X-15 was built by two manufacturers: North American Aviation was contracted for the airframe in November 1955, and Reaction Motors
Reaction Motors
was contracted for building the engines in 1956. Like many X-series aircraft, the X-15 was designed to be carried aloft and drop launched from under the wing of a NASA
B-52 mother ship. Air Force NB-52A, "The High and Mighty One" (serial 52-0003, a.k.a. Balls Three), and NB-52B, "The Challenger" (serial 52-0008, a.k.a. Balls 8) served as carrier planes for all X-15 flights. Release took place at an altitude of about 8.5 miles (13.7 km) and a speed of about 500 miles per hour (805 km/h).[6] The X-15 fuselage was long and cylindrical, with rear fairings that flattened its appearance, and thick, dorsal and ventral wedge-fin stabilizers. Parts of the fuselage were heat-resistant nickel alloy (Inconel-X 750).[5] The retractable landing gear comprised a nose-wheel carriage and two rear skids. The skids did not extend beyond the ventral fin, which required the pilot to jettison the lower fin just before landing. The lower fin was recovered by parachute. Cockpit and pilot systems[edit]

Cockpit of an X-15

The X-15 was a research program and changes were made to various systems over the course of the program and between the different models. The X-15 was operated under several different scenarios, including attachment to a launch aircraft, drop, main engine start and acceleration, a ballistic flight into thin air/space, re-entry into thicker air, and an unpowered glide to landing. Alternatively, if the main engine was not started the pilot went directly to a landing. The main rocket engine operated only for a relatively short part of the flight, but was capable of boosting the X-15 to its high speeds and altitudes. Without main engine thrust, the X-15's instruments and control surfaces remained functional, but the aircraft could not maintain altitude. Because the X-15 also had to be controlled in an environment where there was too little air for aerodynamic flight control surfaces, it had a reaction control system (RCS) that used rocket thrusters.[7] There were two different X-15 pilot control setups: one used three joysticks; the other, one joystick.[8] The X-15 type with multiple control sticks for the pilot included a traditional rudder and stick, and another joystick on the left which sent commands to the reaction control system.[9] A third joystick on the right side was used during high-G maneuvers to augment the center stick.[9] In addition to pilot input, the X-15 "Stability Augmentation System" (SAS) sent inputs to the aerodynamic controls to help the pilot maintain attitude control.[9] The Reaction Control System (RCS) could be operated in two modes — manual and automatic.[8] The automatic mode used a feature called "Reaction Augmentation System" (RAS) that helped stabilize the vehicle at high altitude.[8] The RAS was typically used for approximately three minutes of an X-15 flight before automatic power off.[8] The second setup used the MH-96 flight control system, which allowed one joystick in place of three and simplified pilot input.[10] The MH-96 could automatically blend aerodynamic and rocket controls, depending on how effective each system was at controlling the aircraft.[10] Among the many controls were the rocket engine throttle and a control for jettisoning the ventral tail fin.[9] Other features of the cockpit were heated windows to prevent icing, and a forward headrest for periods of high deceleration.[9] The X-15 had an ejection seat that allowed ejection at speeds up to Mach 4 (4,480 km/h; 2,784 mph) and/or 120,000 feet (37 km) altitude, although it was not used during the program.[9] In the event of ejection, the seat had deployable fins which were used until it reached a safer speed/altitude, where it could deploy its main parachute.[9] Pilots wore a pressure suit, which could be pressurized with nitrogen gas.[9] Above 35,000 feet (11 km) altitude, the cockpit was pressurized to 3.5 psi (0.24 atm) with nitrogen gas, and oxygen for breathing was fed separately to the pilot.[9] Propulsion[edit]

X-15 tail with XLR-99

The initial 24 powered flights used two Reaction Motors
Reaction Motors
XLR11 liquid-propellant rocket engines, enhanced to provide a total of 16,000 pounds-force (71 kN) of thrust as compared to the 6,000 pounds-force (27 kN) that a single XLR11 provided in 1947 to make the Bell X-1
Bell X-1
the first aircraft to fly faster than the speed of sound. The XLR11 used ethyl alcohol and liquid oxygen. By November 1960, Reaction Motors
Reaction Motors
was able to deliver the XLR99 rocket engine, generating 57,000 pounds-force (250 kN) of thrust. The remaining 175 flights of the X-15 used XLR99 engines, in a single engine configuration. The XLR99 used anhydrous ammonia and liquid oxygen as propellant, and hydrogen peroxide to drive the high-speed turbopump that delivered propellants to the engine.[7] It could burn 15,000 pounds (6,804 kg) of propellant in 80 seconds;[7] Jules Bergman titled his book on the program Ninety Seconds to Space to describe the total powered flight time of the aircraft.[11] The X-15 reaction control system (RCS), for maneuvering in low-pressure/density environment, used high-test peroxide (HTP), which decomposes into water and oxygen in the presence of a catalyst and could provide a specific impulse of 140 seconds.[8][12] The HTP also fueled a turbopump for the main engines and auxiliary power units (APUs).[7] Additional tanks for helium and liquid nitrogen performed other functions, for example the fuselage interior was purged with helium gas, and the liquid nitrogen was used as coolant for various systems.[7] Wedge tail and hypersonic stability[edit]

X-15 attached to its B-52 mother ship with a T-38 flying nearby

The X-15 had a thick wedge tail to enable it to fly in a steady manner at hypersonic speeds.[13] This produced a significant amount of drag at lower speeds;[13] the blunt end at the rear of the X-15 could produce as much drag as an entire F-104 Starfighter.[13]

A wedge shape was used because it is more effective than the conventional tail as a stabilizing surface at hypersonic speeds. A vertical-tail area equal to 60 percent of the wing area was required to give the X-15 adequate directional stability. — Wendell H. Stillwell, X-15 Research
Results (SP-60)

Stability at hypersonic speeds was aided by side panels which could be extended from the tail to increase the overall surface area, and these panels doubled as air-brakes.[13] Operational history[edit]

Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong
with X-15 number 1

X-15 pilots as of December 1965, left to right: Joe Engle, Bob Rushworth, John McKay, Pete Knight, Milt Thompson, and Bill Dana.

Altitudes attained by X-15 aircraft fell short of those of Alan Shepard's and Gus Grissom's Project Mercury
Project Mercury
space capsules in 1961, or of any other manned spacecraft. However, the X-15 ranks supreme among manned rocket-powered aircraft, becoming the world's first operational spaceplane in the early 1960s. Before 1958, United States Air Force
United States Air Force
officials discussed an orbital X-15 spaceplane, the X-15B that would launch into outer space from atop an SM-64 Navaho
SM-64 Navaho
missile. This was canceled when the NACA
became NASA
and adopted Project Mercury
Project Mercury
instead. By 1959, the Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar
Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar
space-glider program was to become the USAF's preferred means for launching military manned spacecraft into orbit. This program was canceled in the early 1960s before an operational vehicle could be built.[3] Various configurations of the Navajo were considered, and another proposal involved a Titan I stage.[14] Three X-15s were built, flying 199 test flights, the last on 24 October 1968. The first X-15 flight was a captive-carry unpowered test by Scott Crossfield, on 8 June 1959. Crossfield also piloted the first powered flight, on 17 September 1959, and his first flight with the XLR-99 rocket engine on 15 November 1960. Twelve test pilots flew the X-15. Among these were Neil Armstrong, later a NASA
astronaut and first man to set foot on the Moon, and Joe Engle, later a commander of NASA Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
test flights. In a 1962 proposal, NASA
considered using the B-52/X-15 as a launch platform for a Blue Scout
Blue Scout
rocket to place satellites weighing up to 150 pounds (68 kg) into orbit.[14][15] In July and August 1963, pilot Joseph A. Walker
Joseph A. Walker
exceeded 100 km in altitude, joining NASA
astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts as the first human beings to cross that line on their way to outer space. The USAF awarded astronaut wings to anyone achieving an altitude of 50 miles (80 km), while the FAI set the limit of space at 100 kilometers (62.1 mi). On 15 November 1967, U.S. Air Force
U.S. Air Force
test pilot Major Michael J. Adams was killed during X-15 Flight 191
X-15 Flight 191
when the X-15-3, AF Ser. No. 56-6672, entered a hypersonic spin while descending, then oscillated violently as aerodynamic forces increased after re-entry. As his aircraft's flight control system operated the control surfaces to their limits, acceleration built to 15 g0 (150 m/s2) vertical and 8.0 g0 (78 m/s2) lateral. The airframe broke apart at 60,000 feet (18 km) altitude, scattering the X-15's wreckage for 50 square miles (130 km2). On 8 May 2004, a monument was erected at the cockpit's locale, near Randsburg, California.[16] Major Adams was posthumously awarded Air Force astronaut wings for his final flight in X-15-3, which had reached an altitude of 50.4 miles (81.1 km). In 1991, his name was added to the Astronaut Memorial.[16] The second X-15, X-15-2, was rebuilt after a landing accident. It was lengthened by 2.4 feet (73 cm), had a pair of auxiliary fuel tanks attached beneath its fuselage and wings, and a complete heat-resistant ablative coating was added. The plane was renamed the X-15A-2, and took flight for the first time on 28 June 1964. It reached its maximum speed of 4,520 miles per hour (7,274 km/h) in October 1967 with pilot William "Pete" Knight
William "Pete" Knight
of the U.S. Air Force
U.S. Air Force
in control. In addition to F-100, F-104 and F5D chase aircraft, H-22 helicopters, C-130 transports, and one C-47 transport,[17] five aircraft were used during the span of the X-15 program: three X-15 planes and two B-52 bombers:

X-15-1 – 56-6670, 82 powered flights X-15-2 (later X-15A-2) – 56-6671, 31 powered flights as X-15-2, 22 powered flights as X-15A-2, and 53 in total X-15-3 – 56-6672, 64 powered flights NB-52A – 52-003 nicknamed "The High and Mighty One" (retired in October 1969) NB-52B – 52-008 nicknamed "The Challenger", later "Balls 8" (retired in November 2004)

A 200th flight over Nevada was first scheduled for 21 November 1968, to be flown by William "Pete" Knight. Numerous technical problems and outbreaks of bad weather delayed this proposed flight six times, and it was permanently canceled on 20 December 1968. This X-15 was detached from the B-52 and then put into indefinite storage. The aircraft was later donated to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for display.

NB-52A (s/n 52-003), permanent test variant, carrying an X-15, with mission markings; horizontal X-15 silhouettes denote glide flights, diagonal silhouettes denote powered flights.

X-15 just after release.

X-15 touching down on its skids, with the lower ventral fin jettisoned.

X-15A2 (56-6671) with external fuel tanks

Current static displays[edit]

X-15 at the National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum
in Washington, D.C.

X-15 at the USAF Museum

X-15A-1 (AF Ser. No. 56-6670) is on display in the National Air and Space Museum "Milestones of Flight" gallery, Washington, D.C. X-15A-2 (AF Ser. No. 56-6671) is at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio. It was retired to the museum in October 1969.[18] The aircraft is displayed in the museum's Research
and Development Gallery alongside other "X-planes", including the Bell X-1B and Douglas X-3 Stiletto.


Dryden Flight Research
Center, Edwards AFB, California, United States (painted with AF Ser. No. 56-6672) Pima Air & Space Museum, adjacent to Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Arizona (painted with AF Ser. No. 56-6671) Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, McMinnville, Oregon (painted with AF Ser. No. 56-6672). A full-scale wooden mockup of the X-15, it is displayed along with one of the rocket engines.

Stratofortress mother ships[edit]

NB-52B takes off with an X-15

NB-52A (AF Ser. No. 52-0003) is displayed at the Pima Air & Space Museum adjacent to Davis–Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona. It launched the X-15-1 30 times, the X-15-2, 11 times, and the X-15-3 31 times (as well as the M2-F2 four times, the HL-10 11 times and the X-24A twice). NB-52B (AF Ser. No. 52-0008) is on permanent display outside the north gate of Edwards AFB, California. It launched the majority of X-15 flights.

Record flights[edit] Highest flights[edit] The FAI set the limit of space at 100 kilometers (62.1 mi). But in the 1960s, the U.S. Air Force
U.S. Air Force
considered an altitude of 50 miles (80 km) as the limit of space; U.S. Air Force
U.S. Air Force
and NASA
pilots and crew exceeding that altitude at the time could be awarded the astronaut badge. Thirteen X-15 flights went higher than 50 miles, two of which exceeded 100 kilometers.

X-15 flights higher than 50 miles in chronological order

Flight Date Top speed Altitude Pilot

Flight 62 17 July 1962 3,831 mph (6,165 km/h) 59.6 mi (95.9 km) Robert M. White

Flight 77 17 January 1963 3,677 mph (5,918 km/h) 51.4 mi (82.7 km) Joseph A. Walker

Flight 87 27 June 1963 3,425 mph (5,512 km/h) 53.9 mi (86.7 km) Robert A. Rushworth

Flight 90 19 July 1963 3,710 mph (5,971 km/h) 65.8 mi (105.9 km) Joseph A. Walker

Flight 91 22 August 1963 3,794 mph (6,106 km/h) 67.0 mi (107.8 km) Joseph A. Walker

Flight 138 29 June 1965 3,431 mph (5,522 km/h) 53.1 mi (85.5 km) Joe H. Engle

Flight 143 10 August 1965 3,549 mph (5,712 km/h) 51.3 mi (82.6 km) Joe H. Engle

Flight 150 28 September 1965 3,731 mph (6,004 km/h) 55.9 mi (90.0 km) John B. McKay

Flight 153 14 October 1965 3,554 mph (5,720 km/h) 50.4 mi (81.1 km) Joe H. Engle

Flight 174 1 November 1966 3,750 mph (6,035 km/h) 58.1 mi (93.5 km) William H. "Bill" Dana

Flight 190 17 October 1967 3,856 mph (6,206 km/h) 53.1 mi (85.5 km) William J. "Pete" Knight

Flight 191 15 November 1967 3,569 mph (5,744 km/h) 50.3 mi (81.0 km) Michael J. Adams†

Flight 197 21 August 1968 3,443 mph (5,541 km/h) 50.6 mi (81.4 km) William H. Dana

† fatal Fastest recorded flights[edit]

Key speed and altitude benchmarks of the X-15.

X-15 ten fastest flights

Flight Date Top speed Altitude Pilot

Flight 45 9 November 1961 4,092 mph (6,585 km/h) 19.2 mi (30.9 km) Robert M. White

Flight 59 27 June 1962 4,104 mph (6,605 km/h) 23.4 mi (37.7 km) Joseph A. Walker

Flight 64 26 July 1962 3,989 mph (6,420 km/h) 18.7 mi (30.1 km) Neil A. Armstrong

Flight 86 25 June 1963 3,910 mph (6,293 km/h) 21.7 mi (34.9 km) Joseph A. Walker

Flight 89 18 July 1963 3,925 mph (6,317 km/h) 19.8 mi (31.9 km) Robert A. Rushworth

Flight 97 5 December 1963 4,017 mph (6,465 km/h) 19.1 mi (30.7 km) Robert A. Rushworth

Flight 105 29 April 1964 3,905 mph (6,284 km/h) 19.2 mi (30.9 km) Robert A. Rushworth

Flight 137 22 June 1965 3,938 mph (6,338 km/h) 29.5 mi (47.5 km) John B. McKay

Flight 175 18 November 1966 4,250 mph (6,840 km/h) 18.7 mi (30.1 km) William J. "Pete" Knight

Flight 188 3 October 1967 4,520 mph (7,274 km/h) 19.3 mi (31.1 km) William J. "Pete" Knight


X-15 pilots and their achievements during the program

Pilot Organization Total flights USAF space flights FAI space flights Max Mach Max speed (mph) Max altitude (miles)

Michael J. Adams† U.S. Air Force 7 1 0 5.59 3,822 50.3

Neil A. Armstrong NASA 7 0 0 5.74 3,989 39.2

Scott Crossfield North American Aviation 14 0 0 2.97 1,959 15.3

William H. Dana NASA 16 2 0 5.53 3,897 58.1

Joe H. Engle U.S. Air Force 16 3 0 5.71 3,887 53.1

William J. Knight U.S. Air Force 16 1 0 6.70 4,519 53.1

John B. McKay NASA 29 1 0 5.65 3,863 55.9

Forrest S. Petersen U.S. Navy 5 0 0 5.3 3,600 19.2

Robert A. Rushworth U.S. Air Force 34 1 0 6.06 4,017 53.9

Milton O. Thompson NASA 14 0 0 5.48 3,723 40.5

Joseph A. Walker NASA 25 3 2 5.92 4,104 67.0

Robert M. White** U.S. Air Force 16 1 0 6.04 4,092 59.6

† Killed in the crash of an X-15 ** White replaced selected pilot Iven Kincheloe, who died before the first X-15 flight. Specifications[edit]

X-15 3-view

Other configurations include the Reaction Motors
Reaction Motors
XLR11 equipped X-15, and the long version. General characteristics

Crew: one Length: 50 ft 9 in (15.45 m) Wingspan: 22 ft 4 in (6.8 m) Height: 13 ft 6 in (4.12 m) Wing area: 200 ft2 (18.6 m2) Empty weight: 14,600 lb (6,620 kg) Loaded weight: 34,000 lb (15,420 kg) Max. takeoff weight: 34,000 lb (15,420 kg) Powerplant: 1 × Reaction Motors
Reaction Motors
XLR99-RM-2 liquid propellant rocket engine, 70,400 lbf at 30 km (313 kN)


Maximum speed: 4,520 mph (7,274 km/h) Range: 280 mi (450 km) Service ceiling: 67 mi (108 km, 354,330 ft) Rate of climb: 60,000 ft/min (18,288 m/min) Wing loading: 170 lb/ft2 (829 kg/m2) Thrust/weight: 2.07

See also[edit]

Single-person spacecraft

United States Air Force
United States Air Force
portal Aviation portal Spaceflight portal

of comparable role, configuration and era

Bell X-2 Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket

Related lists

List of rocket aircraft List of X-15 flights List of spaceflight-related accidents and incidents



^ " North American X-15
North American X-15
High-Speed Research
Aircraft". Aerospaceweb.org. 2010. Retrieved 24 November 2008.  ^ Gibbs, Yvonne, ed. (28 February 2014). " NASA
Armstrong Fact Sheet: X-15 Hypersonic Research
Program". NASA. Retrieved 4 October 2015.  ^ a b Jenkins 2001, p. 10. ^ Thompson, Elvia H.; Johnsen, Frederick A. (23 August 2005). "NASA Honors High Flying Space Pioneers" (Press release). NASA. Release 05-233.  ^ a b Käsmann 1999, p. 105. ^ "X-15 launch from B-52 mothership". Armstrong Flight Research Center. 6 February 2002. Photo E-4942.  ^ a b c d e Raveling, Paul. "X-15 Pilot Report, Part 1: X-15 General Description & Walkaround". SierraFoot.org. Retrieved 30 September 2011.  ^ a b c d e Jarvis, Calvin R.; Lock, Wilton P. (1965). Operational Experience With the X-15 Reaction Control and Reaction Augmentation Systems (PDF). NASA. OCLC 703664750. TN D-2864.  ^ a b c d e f g h i Raveling, Paul. "X-15 Pilot Report, Part 2: X-15 Cockpit Check". SierraFoot.org. Retrieved 1 October 2011.  ^ a b "Forty Years ago in the X-15 Flight Test Program, November 1961–March 1962". Goleta Air & Space Museum. Retrieved 3 October 2011.  ^ Gale, Floyd C. (October 1961). "Galaxy's 5-Star Shelf". Galaxy Magazine. Vol. 20 no. 1. p. 174.  ^ Davies 2003, p. 8.28. ^ a b c d Stillwell, Wendell H. (1965). X-15 Research
Results: With a Selected Bibliography. NASA. OCLC 44275779. NASA
SP-60.  ^ a b Wade, Mark. "X-15/Blue Scout". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 11 October 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2011.  ^ "Historical note: Blue Scout
Blue Scout
/ X-15". Citizensinspace.org. 21 March 2012.  ^ a b Merlin, Peter W. (30 July 2004). "Michael Adams: Remembering a Fallen Hero". The X-Press. 46 (6).  ^ Jenkins, Dennis (2010). "X-15: Extending The Frontiers of Flight". ISBN 978-1470025854.  ^ USAF Museum Guidebook 1975, p. 73.


Davies, Mark, ed. (2003). The Standard Handbook for Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineers. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 8–28. ISBN 978-0-07-136229-0.  Godwin, Robert, ed. (2001). X-15: The NASA
Mission Reports. Burlington, Ontario: Apogee Books. ISBN 1-896522-65-3.  Hallion, Richard P. (March–June 1978). "Saga of the Rocket Ships". In Green, William; Swanborough, Gordon. Air Enthusiast Six. Bromley, Kent, UK: Pilot Press.  Jenkins, Dennis R. (2001). Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System: The First 100 Missions (3rd ed.). Stillwater, Minnesota: Voyageur Press. ISBN 0-9633974-5-1.  Jenkins, Dennis R.; Landis, Tony; Miller, Jay (June 2003). American X-Vehicles: An Inventory—X-1 to X-50 (PDF). Monographs in Aerospace History No. 31. NASA. OCLC 68623213. SP-2003-4531.  Jenkins, Dennis R. (2007). X-15: Extending the Frontiers of Flight (PDF). NASA. ISBN 9780160792854. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 May 2010.  Käsmann, Ferdinand C. W. (1999). Die schnellsten Jets der Welt: Weltrekord-Flugzeuge [The Fastest Jets in the World: World Record Aircraft] (in German). Kolpingring, Germany: Aviatic Verlag. ISBN 3-925505-26-1.  Price, A. B. (12 January 1968). Design Report - Thermal Protection System, X-15A-2. Denver, Colorado: Martin Marietta Corporation. NASA CR-82003.  Thompson, Milton O. (1992). At the Edge of Space: The X-15 Flight Program. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 1-56098-107-5.  Tregaskis, Richard (2000). X-15 Diary: The Story of America's First Space Ship. Lincoln, Nebraska: iUniverse. ISBN 0-595-00250-1.  United States Air Force
United States Air Force
Museum Guidebook. Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio: Air Force Museum Foundation. 1975.  Watts, Joe D. (October 1968). Flight Experience With Shock Impingement and Interference Heating on the X-15-2 Research
Airplane (PDF). NASA. NASA-TM-X-1669. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to North American X-15.


X-15: Hypersonic Research
at the Edge of Space Transiting from Air to Space: The North American X-15 Proceedings of the X-15 First Flight 30th Anniversary Celebration Hypersonics Before the Shuttle: A Concise History of the X-15 Research Airplane Interview with Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong
about his experience in the X-15 NASA
Armstrong Fact Sheet: X-15 Hypersonic Research
Program X-15 photos at NASA
Armstrong X-15 movies at NASA
Armstrong The short film Research
Project X-15 is available for free download at the Internet Archive


X-15A at Encyclopedia Astronautica X-15: Advanced Research
Airplane, design summary by North America Aviation

Articles and topics related to the X-15

v t e

North American Aviation
North American Aviation
and North American Aviation
North American Aviation
division of Rockwell International
Rockwell International

Manufacturer "Charge Number"

NA-15 NA-16 NA-17 NA-18 NA-19 NA-20 NA-21 NA-22 NA-23 NA-24 NA-25 NA-26 NA-27 NA-28 NA-29 NA-30 NA-31 NA-32 NA-33 NA-34 NA-35 NA-36 NA-37 NA-38 NA-39 NA-40 NA-41 NA-42 NA-43 NA-44 NA-45 NA-46 NA-47 NA-48 NA-49 NA-50 NA-51 NA-52 NA-53 NA-54 NA-55 NA-56 NA-57 NA-58 NA-59 NA-60 NA-61 NA-62 NA-63 NA-64 NA-65 NA-66 NA-67 NA-68 NA-69 NA-70 NA-71 NA-72 NA-73 NA-74 NA-75 NA-76 NA-77 NA-78 NA-79 NA-80 NA-81 NA-82 NA-83 NA-84 NA-85 NA-86 NA-87 NA-88 NA-89 NA-90 NA-91 NA-92 NA-93 NA-94 NA-95 NA-96 NA-97 NA-98 NA-99 NA-100 NA-101 NA-102 NA-103 NA-104 NA-105 NA-106 NA-107 NA-108 NA-109 NA-110 NA-111 NA-112 NA-113 NA-114 NA-115 NA-116 NA-117 NA-118 NA-119 NA-120 NA-121 NA-122 NA-123 NA-124 NA-125 NA-126 NA-127 NA-128 NA-129 NA-130 NA-131 NA-132 NA-133 NA-134 NA-135 NA-136 NA-137 NA-138 NA-139 NA-140 NA-141 NA-142 NA-143 NA-144 NA-145 NA-146 NA-147 NA-148 NA-149 NA-150 NA-151 NA-152 NA-153 NA-154 NA-155 NA-156 NA-157 NA-158 NA-159 NA-160 NA-161 NA-162 NA-163 NA-164 NA-165 NA-166 NA-167 NA-168 NA-169 NA-170 NA-171 NA-172 NA-173 NA-174 NA-175 NA-176 NA-177 NA-178 NA-179 NA-180 NA-181 NA-182 NA-183 NA-184 NA-185 NA-186 NA-187 NA-188 NA-189 NA-190 NA-191 NA-192 NA-193 NA-194 NA-195 NA-196 NA-197 NA-198 NA-199 NA-200 NA-201 NA-202 NA-203 NA-204 NA-205 NA-206 NA-207 NA-208 NA-209 NA-210 NA-211 NA-212 NA-213 NA-214 NA-215 NA-216 NA-217 NA-218 NA-219 NA-220 NA-221 NA-222 NA-223 NA-224 NA-225 NA-226 NA-227 NA-228 NA-229 NA-230 NA-231 NA-232 NA-233 NA-234 NA-235 NA-236 NA-237 NA-238 NA-239 NA-240 NA-241 NA-242 NA-243 NA-244 NA-245 NA-246 NA-247 NA-248 NA-249 NA-250 NA-251 NA-252 NA-253 NA-254 NA-255 NA-256 NA-257 NA-258 NA-259 NA-260 NA-261 NA-262 NA-263 NA-264 NA-265 NA-266 NA-267 NA-268 NA-269 NA-270 NA-271 NA-272 NA-273 NA-274 NA-275 NA-276 NA-277 NA-278 NA-279 NA-280 NA-281 NA-282 NA-283 NA-284 NA-285 NA-286 NA-287 NA-288 NA-289 NA-290 NA-291 NA-292 NA-293 NA-294 NA-295 NA-296 NA-297 NA-298 NA-299 NA-300 NA-301 NA-302 NA-303 NA-304 NA-305 NA-306 NA-307 NA-308 NA-309 NA-310 NA-311 NA-312 NA-313 NA-314 NA-315 NA-316 NA-317 NA-318 NA-319 NA-320 NA-321 NA-322 NA-323 NA-324 NA-325 NA-326 NA-327 NA-328 NA-329 NA-330 NA-331 NA-332 NA-333 NA-334 NA-335 NA-336 NA-337 NA-338 NA-339 NA-340 NA-341 NA-342 NA-343 NA-344 NA-345 NA-346 NA-347 NA-348 NA-349 NA-350 NA-351 NA-352 NA-353 NA-354 NA-355 NA-356 NA-357 NA-358 NA-359 NA-360 NA-361 NA-362 NA-363 NA-364 NA-365 NA-366 NA-367 NA-368 NA-369 NA-370 NA-371 NA-372 NA-373 NA-374 NA-375 NA-376 NA-377 NA-378 NA-379 NA-380 NA-381 NA-382 NA-383 NA-384 NA-385 NA-386 NA-387 NA-388 NA-389 NA-390 NA-391 NA-392 NA-393 NA-394 NA-395 NA-396 NA-397 NA-398 NA-399 NA-400 NA-401 NA-402 NA-403 NA-404 NA-405 NA-406 NA-407 NA-420 NA-430 NA-431 D481 NA-704

By role


P-51 Mustang P-64 F-82 Twin Mustang F-86/F-86D Sabre YF-93 F-100 Super Sabre F-107 XF-108 Rapier FJ-1 FJ-2/3 Fury FJ-4 Fury F-1 XFV-12


XB-21 B-25 Mitchell XB-28 Dragon B-45 Tornado B-64 XB-70 Valkyrie B-1 Lancer


A-27 A-36 Apache AJ Savage XA2J Super Savage A3J A-2 A-5 Vigilante


O-47 L-17 OV-10 Bronco


NA-16 NA-35 BT-9 BT-10 BT-14 Yale BC-1 Harvard BC-2 AT-6 Texan T-6 Texan NJ-1 SNJ XSN2J T2J T3J T-28 Trojan T-39 T-2 Buckeye Ranger 2000






X-10 X-15 X-30 X-31 HiMAT


SSM-N-4 SM-64 GAM-77 AGM-28 AGM-53


Apollo CSM DC-3 Space Shuttle

By name

Apache Bronco Buckeye Fury Harvard HiMAT Hound Dog Invader Lancer Mitchell Mustang Navaho Navion Ranger Rapier Redhead Roadrunner Sabre Sabre Dog Sabreliner Savage Super Sabre Super Savage Taurus Texan Tornado Torito Trojan Twin Mustang Valkyrie Vigilante Yale

See also: Aero Commander

v t e

USAF / Joint Service experimental aircraft (X-plane) designations since 1941


X-1 X-2 X-3 X-4 X-5 X-6 X-7 X-8 X-9 X-10 X-11 X-12 X-13 X-14 X-15 X-16 X-17 X-18 X-19 X-20 X-21 X-22 X-23 X-24A/B / C X-25


X-26 X-27 X-28 X-29 X-30 X-31 X-32 X-33 X-34 X-35 X-36 X-37 X-38 X-39 X-40 X-41 X-42 X-43 X-44 X-45 X-46 X-47A / B / C X-48 X-49 X-50


X-51 X-521 X-53 X-54 X-55 X-56 X-57

See also

AD-1 HiMAT HL-10 M2-F1 M2-F2 M2-F3

1 Not assigned.

v t e

United States
United States
human spaceflight programs


International Space Station
International Space Station
(joint) Orion (in development)


X-15 (suborbital) Mercury Gemini Apollo Skylab Apollo–Soyuz (with USSR) Space Shuttle Shuttle-Mir (with Russia)


MISS Orion (nuclear) Dyna-Soar Manned Orbiting Laboratory National Aero-Space Plane Space Station Freedom
Space Station Freedom
(now ISS) Orbital Space Plane Project Constellation

v t e

Crewed spacecraft






In development

United States

Dragon 2 CST-100 Starliner New Shepard SpaceShipTwo BFR spaceship Orion Dream Chaser




ISRO Orbital Vehicle


manned project


Soviet Union

Vostok Voskhod

United States

Mercury X-15 Gemini Apollo Space Shuttle SpaceShipOne

v t e

Reusable launch systems

Partially reusable


Falcon 9 Full Thrust
Falcon 9 Full Thrust
(first stage) Falcon Heavy
Falcon Heavy
(core stages)

In development

Adeline engine pack for Ariane 6 Baikal booster for Angara New Glenn
New Glenn
(first stage) Next Generation Launcher
Next Generation Launcher
(boosters) RLV-TD Vulcan (engines)


Buran Space Shuttle


Ares I Ares V Falcon 1e Falcon 5 HOPE-X Hopper / Phoenix Liquid Fly-back Booster MAKS Reusable Booster System Saturn-Shuttle

Completely reusable


New Shepard SpaceShipTwo

In development

BFR Skylon


SpaceShipOne X-15


Avatar Energia II (Uragan) Goodyear Meteor Junior HOTOL ITS K-1 Lynx Roton Sea Dragon SOAR SpaceShipThree VentureStar X-30 NASP X-33 MUSTARD

Italics indicates suborbital launch systems ‡ - Reusability currently in development

v t e

Air-launched space vehicles and rockets

Air launch


SpaceShipOne SpaceShipTwo X-15

Sounding rockets

Jaguar Sparoair

Orbital launchers

Caleb LauncherOne Pegasus Pilot

Air-to-space missiles


Air-launched ballistic missiles

Kh-47M2 Kinzhal LGM-30 Minuteman GAM-87 Skybolt

v t e


Policy and history


(1915) National Aeronautics and Space Act
National Aeronautics and Space Act
(1958) Space Task Group
Space Task Group
(1958) Paine (1986) Rogers (1986) Ride (1987) Space Exploration Initiative
Space Exploration Initiative
(1989) Augustine (1990) U.S. National Space Policy (1996) CFUSAI (2002) CAIB (2003) Vision for Space Exploration
Vision for Space Exploration
(2004) Aldridge (2004) Augustine (2009)


Space Race Administrator and Deputy Administrator Chief Scientist Astronaut
Corps Budget Spin-off technologies NASA
Social Launch Services Program Kennedy Space Center

Vehicle Assembly Building Launch Complex 39 Launch Control Center

Johnson Space Center

Mission Control Lunar Sample Laboratory

Robotic programs


Hitchhiker Mariner Mariner Mark II MESUR Mars Surveyor '98 New Millennium Lunar Orbiter Pioneer Planetary Observer Ranger Surveyor Viking Project Prometheus Mars Scout


Living With a Star Lunar Precursor Robotic Program Earth Observing System Great Observatories program Explorer Small explorer Voyager Discovery New Frontiers Mars Exploration Rover

Human spaceflight programs


X-15 (suborbital) Mercury Gemini Apollo Apollo–Soyuz Test Project (with the Soviet space program) Skylab Space Shuttle Shuttle–Mir (with  Roscosmos
State Corporation) Constellation


International Space Station Commercial Orbital Transportation Services
Commercial Orbital Transportation Services
(COTS) Commercial Crew Development
Commercial Crew Development
(CCDev) Orion

Individual featured missions (human and robotic)


COBE Apollo 11 Mercury 3 Mercury-Atlas 6 Magellan Pioneer 10 Pioneer 11 Galileo GALEX GRAIL WMAP Space Shuttle Sojourner rover Spirit rover LADEE MESSENGER Aquarius Cassini

Currently operating

MRO 2001 Mars Odyssey Dawn New Horizons Kepler International Space Station Hubble Space Telescope Spitzer RHESSI Swift THEMIS Mars Exploration Rover Curiosity rover


Opportunity rover


GOES 14 Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter GOES 15 Van Allen Probes SDO Juno Mars Science Laboratory




JPSS James Webb Space Telescope WFIRST InSight Mars 2020 NISAR Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite Europa Clipper

Communications and navigation

Canberra Deep Space Atomic Clock Deep Space Network
Space Network
(Goldstone Madrid Near Earth Network Space Flight Operations Facility) Space Network



by name by year Apollo astronauts

List of NASA
aircraft List of NASA

unmanned missions

List of NASA
contractors List of United States
United States
rockets List of NASA
cancellations List of Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle


images and artwork

Earthrise The Blue Marble Family Portrait

Pale Blue Dot

Pillars of Creation Mystic Mountain Solar System Family Portrait The Day the Earth Smiled Fallen Astronaut Lunar plaques Pioneer plaques Voyager Golden Record NASA
insignia Gemini and Apollo medallions Mission patches