The World's Fastest Rocket Plane and the Pilots Who Ushered in the Space Age
Format: Hardcover, 144 Pages
Illustrations: 150 color & 25 b/w photos
Size: 8.25 x 10.25
Weight: 1 lb.
Published: Feb. 15, 2014
List Price: $30.00 $22.50
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In X-15, the exciting story of the X-15—the iconic rocket plane of the Cold War space race—is recounted by John Anderson, curator of aerodynamics at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. This experimental space plane was on the cutting edge of hypersonic aerodynamics, and its winged reentry from space foreshadowed the development of the Space Shuttle decades later. Launched from the wing of a modified B-52 bomber—again foretelling a concept that would be used decades later, in this case by SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo—the ship rocketed higher and faster than any manned aircraft of the time. Designed to approach seven times the speed of sound, it was the first hypersonic aircraft ever created and was engineered to function both in the Earth’s atmosphere and at the edge of space. Illustrated with period NASA and USAF photographs, as well as exclusive Smithsonian photography of the first of three X-15s built, X-15 captures the risks and dangers of the X-15 program as Anderson follows the test pilots (including Neil Armstrong) who pushed the very limits of their piloting skills to master groundbreaking experimental technology. Even with the fatal crash of the third X-15, the overall success of the program helped pave the way for NASA to continue to the Moon—and this is the definitive, expertly curated, and beautifully illustrated account of its development.
"The book is a joy to read and to learn of the nine years the X-15 flew, usually for about 10 minutes and covering no more than 300 miles during each flight. Smaller than a coffee table book yet too large for an airline seat table/tray this book is well written by authors who know the material but, more importantly, know the esteemed place in history occupied by the North American X-15. Anderson and Passman recall the starts, the activities and the accomplishments of the X-15 program which generated a unique data set still in use five decades after the 199th and final X-15 flight." - Travel for Aircraft
"(The) book is ... a concise, yet detailed, introduction to the X-15. As rocket-powered aircraft take to the skies again this year above the Mojave Desert, this book reminds us of another era of such vehicles-and, perhaps, what might have been." - TheSpaceReview.com