Hypersonics Before the Shuttle: A Concise History of the X-15 Research Airplane
Dennis R. Jenkins, NASA Monograph in Aerospace History, June 2000
The first "serious" history of the X-15 design, development, operations, and lessons learned.
In 1954, the X-1 series had just broken Mach 2.5. The aircraft that would become the X-15 was being designed to attain Mach 6, and to fly at the edges of space. It would be accomplished without the use of digital computers, the internet, or email. And it would cost more than 30 times the original estimate.
The X-15 would ultimately exceed all of its original performance goals. It reached Mach 6.7 and 354,200 feet altitude--and was remarkably safe. These experiments allowed the development of the Space Shuttle to proceed much more smoothly than would otherwise have been possible. And in space, the X-15 contributed to both Apollo and Space Shuttle.
Well-illustrated with many rare and historic photos (51 illustrations in all) collected from various aerospace museums, with several classic NASA 3-view drawings complete with technical specifications and performance data.
Includes details about the precursors to the X-15 program (in particular the X-1), and chronicles each step of the hypersonic development program. Tells about alloy research, wind-tunnel experiments, contract arrangements, B-36 carrier aircraft, propellant tanks, fuselage skin, ejection seat release system, cockpit layout, and much more. Of special interest to "amateur" rocket experimenters is the coverage of various rocket engines: the Aerojet XLR73, Bell XLR81, North American NA-5400, Reaction Motors XLR10 (and variants), and others.
Includes the complete (once secret!) project planning document
Each section has detailed notes, references, and biographic details.
- The Genesis of a Research Airplane
- X-15 Design and Development
- The Flight Research Program
- The Legacy of the X-15
- Resolution Adopted by NACA Committee on Aerodynamics
- Signing the Understanding
- Preliminary Outline Specification
- Surveying the Dry Lakes
- R&D Project Card -- Project 1226
- X-15 Flight Designation System
- Major Michael J. Adams Joins the Program
- Astronaut Wings
- X-15 Program Flight Log
NOTE: All sample illustrations here are greatly reduced in size and resolution from the original
Reaction Motors XLR99 throttleable rocket engine
Numerous technical charts show design criteria and performance data
An excellent reference resource for the experimental and amateur rocket scientist. Hard to find and now out-of-print, this new limited edition has been republished by the Rocket Science Institute. It's printed directly from a NASA digital document file, with a high-resolution laser printer on high-quality, bright-white, acid-free paper and quality-bound for years of reference use. 128 pages, large and easy-to-read 11" x 8-1/2" size. $24.95
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