Thursday, September 1, 2011

Walkaround 20 - Space Shuttle

The Space Shuttle Orbiter realizes the dream of a reusable manned spacecraft, whose origins date back to the rocket aircraft tested from the late 1940s to the late 1960s. These aircraft began with the Bell X-l (originally XS-1), which made the first supersonic flight on 14 October 1947. Bell's X-2 was the first to reach iMach 3 on 27 September 1956. The rocket aircraft program reached its climax with the North American X-l5, the first winged aircraft to fly into space and land on a runway. In an 11-minute flight on 22 August 1963. the X-l5 reached an altitude of 354.200 feet (107.960 m) and achieved a speed of 3794 mph (6105.7 kmh) � Mach 5.58. Despite the X-l5 s success, expendable rockets carrying non-aerodynamic spacecraft were the choice of both the Americans and the Soviets during the race to the Moon in the 1960s. The Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar (Dynamic Soaring) was an early attempt to develop a reusable aerospace aircraft, although this was to be launched by an expendable rocket. The X-20 was cancelled during 1963 after four years of development.