The X-15 Rocket Plane: Flying the First Wings into Space

The X-15 Rocket Plane: Flying the First Wings into Space


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With the Soviet Union’s launch of the first Sputnik satellite in 1957, the Cold War soared to new heights as Americans feared losing the race into space. The X-15 Rocket Plane tells the enthralling yet little-known story of the hypersonic X-15, the winged rocket ship that met this challenge and opened the way into human-controlled spaceflight.

Drawing on interviews with those who were there, Michelle Evans captures the drama and excitement of, yes, rocket science: how to handle the heat generated at speeds up to Mach 7, how to make a rocket propulsion system that could throttle, and how to safely reenter the atmosphere from space and make a precision landing.

This book puts a human face on the feats of science and engineering that went into the X-15 program, many of them critical to the development of the Space Shuttle. And, finally, it introduces us to the largely unsung pilots of the X-15. By the time of the Apollo 11 moon landing, thirty-one American astronauts had flown into space—eight of them astronaut-pilots of the X-15. The X-15 Rocket Plane restores these pioneers, and the others who made it happen, to their rightful place in the history of spaceflight.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780803228405
Publisher: UNP - Nebraska
Publication date: 06/01/2013
Series: Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Spaceflight Series
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 587,635
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Michelle Evans is the founder of Mach 25 Media and is an aerospace writer, photographer, and education specialist. She served in the U.S. Air Force working on nuclear missiles, is the producer of several documentaries about space exploration, and is a contributor to Space Daily,, and Ad Astra. Joe H. Engle was the eighth pilot of the X-15 research aircraft and flew sixteen rocket plane missions. He later orbited the earth as the commander of the space shuttle Columbia and again with Discovery.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi

Foreword xiii

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction xxi

1 The Whole Nine Yards 1

2 A Record High 37

3 Gaining Speed 68

4 Naval Engagement 100

5 Changing Course 129

6 Straight and Steady 166

7 Skipping Out 199

8 On a Roll 229

9 Inconel Meets Celluloid 264

10 Fastest Man Alive 297

11 Chasing Experiments 330

12 In the Line of Duty 362

13 Snow at Edwards 402

Afterword 418

Glossary 427

Sources 431

Index 435

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The X-15 Rocket Plane: Flying the First Wings into Space 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
RGSBC More than 1 year ago
An excellent insight into the incredible X-15 and the people (and not just the pilots) involved. The technical aspects are written in a clear, easy to understand manner. Only part I had problems with was the section on Hollywood. I think it would have been better if that part had been about half as long or less. Good read. Hard to put down. .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is absolutely the definitive story of the greatest research aircraft that ever flown, the X-15. Can't recommend it highly enough. If you have any interest in aerospace history, and especially the people who made it all happen, this is the book for you. Meet Neil Armstrong as you've never seen him before. Meet the other pilots like Scott Crossfield, Joe Walker, and Pete Knight, not to mention the guys behind the scenes who kept this beautiful aircraft flying. Hope you'll check it out as it is well worth it. You won't be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Regret buying this. She does not know aviation, insists on inserting social agenda and why do I need to know about her life choices? Had to give it up at page 300. Scholarly editing could have made this worthwhile. As it is...pop journalism or freshman undergrad level
Anonymous More than 1 year ago