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

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

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: 9781496229847
Publisher: Nebraska
Publication date: 05/01/2022
Series: Outward Odyssey: A People's History of Spaceflight
Pages: 484
Sales rank: 897,905
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (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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