On this day in history, 1960, NASA Flight Research Center test pilot, Joe Walker, flew the first NASA flight in a North American X-15 rocket aircraft. During the flight, the aircraft reached Mach 2.0 at 48,630 feet.
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The X-15 rocket-powered aircraft was 50 ft. long, with a wingspan of 22 feet. It was developed to provide in-flight information on aerodynamics, structures, flight controls, and physiological traits of high-speed, high-altitude flight.
Walker’s flight was the ninth flight of the program, as the prior eight flights had been flown as part of the acceptance process by Scott Crossfield for North American Aviation.
Walker went on to fly the aircraft 24 times and eventually achieved its fastest speed and highest altitude. He reached a speed of Mach 5.92 during a flight on June 27, 1962, and attained an altitude of 354,300 feet on August 22, 1963.
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