With the Soviet Union's launch of the first Sputnik satellite in 1957, the Cold War soared to new heights as Americans feared losing the race into space. The X-15 Rocket Plane tells the enthralling yet little-known story of the hypersonic X-15, the winged rocket ship that met this challenge and opened the way into human-controlled spaceflight.
Drawing on interviews with those who were there, Michelle Evans captures the drama and excitement of, yes, rocket science: how to handle the heat generated at speeds up to Mach 7, how to make a rocket propulsion system that could throttle, and how to safely reenter the atmosphere from space and make a precision landing.
This book puts a human face on the feats of science and engineering that went into the X-15 program, many of them critical to the development of the Space Shuttle. And, finally, it introduces us to the largely unsung pilots of the X-15. By the time of the Apollo 11 moon landing, 31 American astronauts had flown into space - eight of them astronaut-pilots of the X-15. The X-15 Rocket Plane restores these pioneers, and the others who made it happen, to their rightful place in the history of spaceflight.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A very complete and much needed history
The history of the X-15 is a major piece of the American experience that is almost completely unknown. When you think about what these people accomplished—with tubes and slide rules—the mind boggles. In 1960, it took 5 hours to cross the nation on a commercial airline. Today, 55 years later, it still takes 5 hours to cross the nation on a commercial airline. The X-15 flew as much as 6x the speed of sound and as high as low Earth orbit—starting in 1958. None of that has been translated for the public good. I’m so ashamed to be part of such a worthless generation.
Read this book. See what Americans used to be like. See what could be done with the crudest tools. Then look in the mirror and insult yourself. No matter what you say, it won’t be harsh enough.
Good History a story with fine technical insights
If you enjoy the history of aerospace and those people who built the pathway to the sky from the 60's give this book a try. This book is filled with the transcribed oral histories and interviews of people who built, flew and pushed back the boundries of reuseable craft space flight. The X-15 program may not have been as glamourous as Apollo but the knowledge we gained was worth more than the program ever cost.