Hypersonic! The Story of the North American X-15

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9781580070683: Hypersonic! The Story of the North American X-15
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Nineteen years before Space Shuttle, the small, black, rocket-powered, bullet-shaped X-15 showed it was possible to fly into - and out of - space. At the dawn of the 21st Century there seem to be a great interest in hypersonic flight. For the most part this is related to a new generation of missiles - air-to-air and air-to-surface - that are being proposed as the next logical increment in weapons, although the designers of the forever-in-development replacement for the Space Shuttle also have a vested interest in hypersonic research. This book is a tribute to the program, the airplanes, and the people who designed, maintained and flew the most successful of the X-planes. There had never been anything like the X-15; it had a million-horsepower engine and could fly twice as fast as a rifle bullet. Over the course of ten years and 199 flights, pilots from the Air Force, Navy, and NASA would spend 85 minutes at hypersonic velocities flying to the edge of space.

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Review:

Rocket plane: The term now conjures images from vintage pulp sci-fi. But in a program that began years before Gagarin and Shepard launched the space race, NASA's X-15 research vehicle ambitiously arched towards the fringes of space, expanding the speed-and-altitude envelope of manned flight like none before it. In the course of a 199 flights over a decade, the X-15 became the first manned aircraft to rocket past Mach 4, 5 and 6; soared some 67 miles above the Earth (earning a handful of its dozen pilots their Astronaut wings, though ironically not Neil Armstrong, later first to set foot on the Moon); and crucially gathered the cornerstone data that enabled the Space Shuttle's return from space a couple decades later. Authors/historians/archivists Dennis Jenkins and Tony Landis have produced nothing short of a landmark history of the X-15's pioneering effort which, they argue, was the most productive flight test program ever)-- the first truly comprehensive chronicle of every phase of its pre-history, development, and often perilous journeys (USAF pilot Mike Adams was killed on one of the craft's final flights, while several others suffered injuries in mishaps). Fueled by an obvious passion for their subject, the authors skillfully boil a daunting body of history, technical data, and personalities down into an eminently accessible chronicle of technical achievement and human bravery. In doing so they've drawn on a wealth of documentary materials and interviews from pilots, NASA and USAF sources and key personnel from North American Aviation, the X-15's manufacturer. Pilots Scott Crossfield and Bill Dana (the first and last to fly the spaceplane, respectively) have also contributed written introductions. --Jerry McCulley

About the Author:

Dennis R. Jenkins spent 30 years as an engineer and manager on the Space Shuttle Program and other space-related programs incuding the X-33, Orbital Space Plane, and the Crew Exploration Vehicle.  Most recently he has served as an advisor and investigator on the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, and as technical staff to the president's Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy and the Space Shuttle Return to Flight Task Group.  He is currently the Verville Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.  Jenkins has written more than 40 books on aerospace subjects.

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9781580071314: Hypersonic: The Story of the North American X-15 (Revised Edition) (Specialty Press)

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ISBN 10:  1580071317 ISBN 13:  9781580071314
Publisher: Specialty Press, 2008
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