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  • Project Man High Gondola

    Project Man High was a series of three U.S. Air Force balloon flights to the edge of space in 1957-1958. The flights reached the stratosphere at around 100,000 feet to study the effects of high altitudes on humans. This gondola helped researchers gather important aeromedical data, and its flights provided valuable information for later spacecraft
  • Reaction Motors XLR99 Rocket

    The XLR99 powered the record-breaking X-15 on its fastest flights at nearly seven times the speed of sound. It was the first large, throttleable, restartable liquid propellant rocket engine to be used in a piloted vehicle. The engine was used only in the X-15 program, which rocketed humans to the edge of space. The X-15A-2 in this gallery has an
  • Reaction Motors XLR11 Rocket

    The XLR11 was the first liquid-fuel rocket engine developed in the United States for use on airplanes, and it had a long career powering important research aircraft. An XLR11 engine powered the first airplane to break the speed of sound, the Bell X-1, in 1947, and also powered other X-1 models. XLR11s also flew in the X-24A and X-24B lifting bodies
  • Aerojet-General LR87 Liquid Rocket

    The LR87 is a liquid-fueled rocket engine first used on Titan Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). LR87 variants also powered the first stages of Titan space boosters in the Gemini manned spaceflight program and various Titan space launch vehicles. Though this powerful engine is in reality two engines working together, it is considered a
  • Rocketdyne LR79

    The LR79 rocket engine was a reliable workhorse for U.S. Air Force space and missile launches between 1958 and 1980. Variants of this liquid-fueled engine powered Jupiter and Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs), Juno II satellite boosters, and Saturn I and IB rockets used in the Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo-Soyuz programs. The LR79 was
  • Teal Ruby

    Experimental Early Warning SensorThis satellite, known as spacecraft P80-1, carried an experimental infrared telescope code named “Teal Ruby.” Designed to detect heat, Teal Ruby was meant to give early warning of enemy aircraft crossing the polar region toward the United States during the Cold War.The Teal Ruby telescope is inside the white
  • HEXAGON KH-9 Reconnaissance Satellite

    HEXAGON KH-9 reconnaissance satellites were the largest and last U.S. intelligence satellites to return photographic film to earth. During the Cold War, 19 HEXAGON missions imaged 877 million square miles of the Earth’s surface between 1971-1986.HEXAGON’s main purpose was wide-area search. Analysts pored over HEXAGON’s photos of large areas, then
  • HEXAGON KH-9 Film Recovery Vehicle

    HEXAGON KH-9 reconnaissance satellites featured four recovery vehicles or “buckets” that dropped back to earth from orbit carrying exposed reconnaissance camera film for processing. A mapping camera attached for some missions at the front of the satellite added a fifth, smaller bucket. U.S. Air Force aircraft snatched the parachuting buckets in
  • GAMBIT 3 KH-8 Reconnaissance Satellite

    The GAMBIT 3 KH-8 photo reconnaissance satellite improved on the GAMBIT 1 KH-7 by providing much better image resolution. GAMBIT 3’s stereoscopic cameras focused on details in small target areas, while other satellites searched wide areas. GAMBIT 3 satellites completed 54 missions from 1966 to 1984.The most notable improvement from GAMBIT 1 to
  • GAMBIT 1 KH-7 Film Recovery Vehicle

    GAMBIT reconnaissance satellites returned exposed film to earth in re-entry vehicles or “buckets” that separated from the satellite, fell through the atmosphere, and descended by parachute. US Air Force aircraft plucked the buckets from the sky at around 15,000 feet. This GAMBIT 1 return capsule’s parts are separated to show its inner
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