The X-15 Research Rocket Airplane: A Step into Space at Six Times the Speed of Sound

date October 14, 2016
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Friday, October 14, 2016
4:00 p.m. in ETC 4.150

Professor Ronald L. Panton
Department of Mechanical Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin

The X-15 Airplane was carried aloft under the wing of a B-52 bomber. After being released it started a rocket motor for a flight and then returned to an unpowered landing on the dry lake at Edwards Air Force Base. The program operated in the 1960s and investigated aerodynamic heating and flight at hypersonic speeds. Altitudes above 99.9% of the atmosphere were achieved. This required vehicle control in space, and allowed experiments about the physical properties of space. This presentation will review the program, emphasizing that technical progress involves making mistakes, meeting unexpected problems, and dealing with unanticipated events.