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North American X-15A-2

The North American X-15A-2 was moved from the restoration hangar to the museum’s new fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

The North American X-15A-2 was moved from the restoration hangar to the museum’s new fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

The North American X-15A-2 was moved from the restoration hangar to the museum’s new fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

The North American X-15A-2 was moved from the restoration hangar to the museum’s new fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

The North American X-15A-2 was moved from the restoration hangar to the museum’s new fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

The North American X-15A-2 was moved from the restoration hangar to the museum’s new fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

The North American X-15A-2 was moved from the restoration hangar to the museum’s new fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

The North American X-15A-2 was moved from the restoration hangar to the museum’s new fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Museum restoration crews move the X-15A-2 from the restoration hangar to the museum’s new fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Museum restoration crews move the X-15A-2 from the restoration hangar to the museum’s new fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 cockpit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 cockpit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 cockpit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 cockpit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 cockpit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 cockpit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 cockpit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 cockpit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The North American X-15A-2 was moved from the restoration hangar to the museum’s new fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 12 of 25

The North American X-15A-2 was moved from the restoration hangar to the museum’s new fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

The North American X-15A-2 was moved from the restoration hangar to the museum’s new fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 13 of 25

The North American X-15A-2 was moved from the restoration hangar to the museum’s new fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 on display in the Space Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 on display in the Space Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 on display in the Space Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 on display in the Space Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio - The North American X-15A-2(front) and the Lockheed Martin Titan IVB Rocket(rear) on display in the Space Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)
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DAYTON, Ohio - The North American X-15A-2(front) and the Lockheed Martin Titan IVB Rocket(rear) on display in the Space Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 in the restoration hangar at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-15A-2 in the restoration hangar at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

North American X-15A-2 dropped by a NASA Boeing NB-52 mothership.(U.S. Air Force photo)
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North American X-15A-2 dropped by a NASA Boeing NB-52 mothership.(U.S. Air Force photo)

North American X-15A-2 carried by a NASA Boeing NB-52 mothership.(U.S. Air Force photo)
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North American X-15A-2 carried by a NASA Boeing NB-52 mothership.(U.S. Air Force photo)

North American X-15A-2 carried by a NASA Boeing NB-52 mothership.(U.S. Air Force photo)
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North American X-15A-2 carried by a NASA Boeing NB-52 mothership.(U.S. Air Force photo)

North American X-15A-2 shown with two external fuel tanks. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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North American X-15A-2 shown with two external fuel tanks. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The second X-15 rocket plane (56-6671) is shown with two external fuel tanks which were added during its conversion to the X-15A-2 configuration in the mid-1960's. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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The second X-15 rocket plane (56-6671) is shown with two external fuel tanks which were added during its conversion to the X-15A-2 configuration in the mid-1960's. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Astronaut Joe H. Engle and the North American X-15A-2.(U.S. Air Force photo)
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Astronaut Joe H. Engle and the North American X-15A-2.(U.S. Air Force photo)

Retired NASA astronaut and the only surviving X-15 pilot, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Joe Engle poses in front of the museum’s X-15A-2. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building when it was moved from the restoration hangar on Oct. 2, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)
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Retired NASA astronaut and the only surviving X-15 pilot, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Joe Engle poses in front of the museum’s X-15A-2. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building when it was moved from the restoration hangar on Oct. 2, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Retired NASA astronaut and the only surviving X-15 pilot, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Joe Engle sat in the X-15 cockpit one more time. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)
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Retired NASA astronaut and the only surviving X-15 pilot, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Joe Engle sat in the X-15 cockpit one more time. The X-15 became the first aircraft to be moved into the fourth building on Oct. 2, 2015, where it will be part of the expanded Space Gallery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)


Hypersonic Research Aircraft

The X-15 is a famous and significant part of aviation history. Its purpose was to fly high and fast, testing the machine and subjecting pilots to conditions that future astronauts would face. It made the first manned flights to the edges of space and was the world’s first piloted aircraft to reach hypersonic speeds, or more than five times the speed of sound. The X-15 was an important tool for developing spaceflight in the 1960s, and pilots flying above 50 miles altitude in the X-15 earned astronaut wings.

Three X-15s were built, and they made 199 flights between 1959-1968. The program was a joint U.S. Air Force/Navy/NASA project, and four of its 12 pilots were U.S. Air Force officers. One pilot, USAF Maj. Michael J. Adams, died in an X-15 crash in 1967. Another X-15 pilot, Neil Armstrong, later became the first man to walk on the moon.

Like other rocket planes, the X-15 was launched in midair from a B-52 “mothership” at about 45,000 feet. Once its powerful rocket ignited, the X-15 streaked upward to the limits of the atmosphere, then glided unpowered to land on a dry lake bed. Typical flights lasted about 10 minutes.

This aircraft is the second of the three X-15s. North American modified it for even greater speed, adding the large orange and white propellant tanks and lengthening the fuselage about 18 inches. This was the fastest X-15, reaching Mach 6.7 in October 1967. It was delivered to the museum in 1969.

TECHNICAL NOTES:
Crew: One
Engine: Reaction Motors XLR-99 of 50,000+ lbs. thrust
Maximum speed: 4,520 mph (Mach 6.7)
Ceiling: 354,200 feet (67 miles)

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