Rocket-Powered X-15 Research Vehicle
November 1961 American Modeler

November 1961 American Modeler

November 1961 American Modeler magazine cover - Airplanes and Rockets Table of Contents

These pages from vintage modeling magazines like Flying Aces, Air Trails, American Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, Young Men, Flying Models, Model Airplane News, R/C Modeler, captured the era. All copyrights acknowledged.

Rocket-Powered X-15 Research Vehicle, November 1961 American Modeler - Airplanes and RocketsThe X-15 was an experimental aircraft developed by NASA and the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s and 1960s. It was a rocket-powered aircraft designed to explore the high-speed and high-altitude flight regimes. The X-15 program aimed to gather data on aerodynamics, structural heat resistance, and control systems for future space and hypersonic vehicles. The X-15 was primarily built for research purposes, aiming to push the boundaries of manned flight. It provided valuable data on the effects of high speeds, altitudes, and temperatures on aircraft and human physiology. The X-15 achieved impressive speeds, with its fastest recorded speed being Mach 6.7 (about 4,520 miles per hour or 7,273 kilometers per hour). It also reached altitudes of up to 354,200 feet (about 107.96 kilometers). The X-15 was flown by a select group of experienced test pilots, including Neil Armstrong (the first person to walk on the Moon), Joe Engle, and Scott Crossfield. From 1959 to 1968, the X-15 completed a total of 199 flights. These flights were launched from a B-52 bomber at high altitudes and speeds, after which the X-15's rocket engines would ignite and propel it further. The X-15 program contributed significantly to various fields, including aerodynamics, materials science, and spacecraft design. The data and knowledge gained from the X-15 flights played a crucial role in the development of the Space Shuttle program and other high-speed aircraft. The X-15 program paved the way for advancements in space exploration and the development of future aerospace technologies. It remains an iconic symbol of NASA's commitment to pushing the boundaries of human flight.

Rocket-Powered X-15 Research Vehicle - Cover Plane

X-15 Landing - Airplanes and RocketsFor the first time in the 34 years that the Harmon International Aviator's Trophy has been awarded for extraordinary feats of piloting skill, it went to three pilots instead of the usual single individual.

The Harmon award for 1960 was presented to A. Scott Crossfield, NAA; Joseph A. Walker, NASA, and Maj. Robert A. White, USAF, for their outstanding accomplishments in flying the rocket-powered X-15 research vehicle.

The mission of the X-15 is to explore flight conditions in space and on the fringe of the earth's atmosphere. Specifically the X-15 is investigating hypersonic aerodynamics, characteristics under high aerodynamic heating conditions, effectiveness of reaction-type controls, piloting problems during exit from and re-entry into the atmosphere.

 - Airplanes and RocketsThe X-I5's (there are three aircraft) are well on the way to accomplishing these research missions. Maximum speed of 3,603 mph (Mach 5.3) and altitude of 107,700 ft were reached in July 1961. About a year previously, the X-15 reached the record altitude of 136,500 ft. The X-15 is now fitted with the Reaction Motors XLR-99 liquid-fueled rocket engine which can deliver 50,000 pounds of thrust. With this engine speeds over Mach 6 (over 4,000 mph) and altitude up to 100 miles are expected to be reached as the research program continues through 1961 - S. Calhoun Smith

NASA photos show No. 2 X15 prior to launch from B-52 (top); "hot nose" which corrects plane's attitude in upper atmosphere (right). No.1 plane (lower left) lands on Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards, Calif., AFB.

Cut-Away View of X-15 Rocket Plane - Airplanes and Rockets

Cut-Away View of X-15 Rocket Plane



Posted June 10, 2023