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Martin X-24 RSS

Martin X-24
Images in: /Aviation/Test Aircraft "X-Planes"/Martin X-24

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Aero Spacelines Super Guppy to ferry X-24 and HL-10 Aero Spacelines Super Guppy to ferry X-24 and HL-10
The Aero Spacelines B377SG Super Guppy was at Dryden in May, 1976, to ferry the X-24 and HL-10 lifting bodies from the Center to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.  The oversized cargo aircraft is a further modification of the B377PG Pregnant Guppy, which was built to transport outsized cargo for NASA's Apollo program, primarily to carry portions of the Saturn V rockets from the manufacturer to Cape Canaveral. The original Guppy modification incorporated the wings, engines, lower fuselage and tail from a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser with a huge upper fuselage more than 20 feet in diameter.  The Super Guppy further expanded the fuselage, replaced the original piston engines with more powerful turbo-prop engines, and added a taller vertical tail for better lateral stability.
 
 
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Annotated photo shows rear view of X-24A lifting body Annotated photo shows rear view of X-24A lifting body
 This annotated photo shows a rear view of the X-24A lifting body research vehicle, emphasizing the control surfaces used for the subsonic portions of the aircraft’s flights.  The X-24A was flown 28 times in the program that, like the HL-10, validated the concept that a Space Shuttle vehicle could be landed unpowered. The fastest speed achieved by the X-24A was 1,036 miles per hour (mph--Mach 1.6). Its maximum altitude was 71,400 feet. It was powered by an XLR-11 rocket engine with a maximum theoretical vacuum thrust of 8,480 pounds.
 
 
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B-52 mothership drop launched X-24 B-52 mothership drop launched X-24
 The X-24A lights its XLR-11 rocket engine and begins its powered flight after being drop launched from its B-52 mothership, seen here with high-altitude contrails streaming from its wings against a dark blue sky. Air Force Maj. Jerauld Gentry at the controls for its first powered flight on March 19, 1970.  The X-24 was one of a group of lifting bodies flown by the NASA Flight Research Center (now Dryden Flight Research Center), Edwards, California, in a joint program with the U.S. Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base from 1963 to 1975. The lifting bodies were used to demonstrate the ability of pilots to maneuver and safely land wingless vehicles designed to fly back to Earth from space and be landed like an airplane at a predetermined site.
 
 
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Martin Marietta X-24A Instrument panel Martin Marietta X-24A Instrument panel
 Front instrument panel in the cockpit of the Martin Marietta X-24A lifting body research vehicle. The X-24 was one of a group of lifting bodies flown by the NASA Flight Research Center (now Dryden Flight Research Center), Edwards, California, in a joint program with the U.S. Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base from 1963 to 1975.  The lifting bodies were used to demonstrate the ability of pilots to maneuver and safely land wingless vehicles designed to fly back to Earth from space and be landed like an airplane at a predetermined site.
 
 
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Martin Marietta X-24B ground check before first flight Martin Marietta X-24B ground check before first flight
 Once a new research vehicle is delivered to Dryden from the contractor, it must undergo months of ground checkout before making its first flight. The X-24B lifting body is no exception. Here it is shown undergoing landing gear drop tests. As part of the modifications to convert the vehicle from the X-24A configuration, the nose gear from an F11F-1 was retrofitted to the X-24B.  In these tests, the X-24B's nose was raised a measured distance above the hangar floor (an engineer can be seen holding a tape measure), and then released, allowing the nose gear to hit the floor. This tested the landing gear's ability to withstand the shock of touchdown, without sustaining damage to it or the aircraft's structure.
 
 
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Martin Marietta X-24B lifting body research vehicle Martin Marietta X-24B lifting body research vehicle
 The sleek, futuristic shape of the Martin Marietta X-24B lifting body research vehicle can be clearly seen in this look-down view of the aircraft on Rogers Dry Lake, adjacent to the NASA Flight Research Center, Edwards, California.  Martin Marietta X-24A was later modified into the X-24B. The bulbous shape of the X-24A was converted into a "flying flatiron" shape with a rounded top, flat bottom, and double delta platform that ended in a pointed nose. The X-24B demonstrated that accurate unpowered reentry vehicle landings were operationally feasible. Top speed achieved by the X-24B was 1,164 mph and the highest altitude it reached was 74,130 feet.
 
 
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Martin Marietta X-24B lifting body research vehicle Martin Marietta X-24B lifting body research vehicle
 The sleek, futuristic shape of the X-24B lifting body research vehicle can be clearly seen in this look-down view of the aircraft on Rogers Dry Lake, adjacent to the NASA Flight Research Center, Edwards, California.  The X-24A was later modified into the X-24B. The bulbous shape of the X-24A was converted into a "flying flatiron" shape with a rounded top, flat bottom, and double delta platform that ended in a pointed nose. The X-24B demonstrated that accurate unpowered reentry vehicle landings were operationally feasible. Top speed achieved by the X-24B was 1,164 mph and the highest altitude it reached was 74,130 feet. Black & White photograph.
 
 
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NASA lifting body on Rogers Dry Lake, Edwards NASA lifting body on Rogers Dry Lake, Edwards
 The wingless, lifting body aircraft sitting on Rogers Dry Lake at what is now NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, from left to right are the X-24A, M2-F3 and the HL-10. The lifting body aircraft studied the feasibility of maneuvering and landing an aerodynamic craft designed for reentry from space. These lifting bodies were air launched by a B-52 mother ship, then flew powered by their own rocket engines before making an unpowered approach and landing. They helped validate the concept that a space shuttle could make accurate landings without power.  The X-24A flew from April 17, 1969 to June 4, 1971. The M2-F3 flew from June 2, 1970 until December 21, 1971. The HL-10 flew from December 22, 1966 until July 17, 1970, and logged the highest and fastest records in the lifting body program.
 
 
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NASA lifting body on Rogers Dry Lake, Edwards AFB NASA lifting body on Rogers Dry Lake, Edwards AFB
 The wingless, lifting body aircraft sitting on Rogers Dry Lake at what is now NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, from left to right are the X-24A, M2-F3 and the HL-10. The lifting body aircraft studied the feasibility of maneuvering and landing an aerodynamic craft designed for reentry from space. These lifting bodies were air launched by a B-52 mother ship, then flew powered by their own rocket engines before making an unpowered approach and landing. They helped validate the concept that a space shuttle could make accurate landings without power.  The X-24A flew from April 17, 1969 to June 4, 1971. The M2-F3 flew from June 2, 1970 until December 22, 1972. The HL-10 flew from December 22, 1966 until July 17, 1970, and logged the highest and fastest records in the lifting body program. Color photo.
 
 
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NASA research pilot Thomas McMurtry with X-24B NASA research pilot Thomas McMurtry with X-24B
 NASA research pilot Thomas C. McMurtry stands in front of the X-24B on Rogers Dry lake, adjacent to the NASA Flight Research Center, Edwards, California. A former U.S. Navy pilot and graduate of the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Maryland, McMurtry was a consultant for Lockheed Corporation before joining NASA in 1967. The X-24B was the last aircraft to fly in Dryden's manned lifting body program.
 
 
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NASA test planes X-24A, M2-F3 & HL-10 NASA test planes X-24A, M2-F3 & HL-10
 NASA wingless lifting body aircraft sitting on Rogers Dry Lake at what is now NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, from left to right are the X-24A, M2-F3 and the HL-10.   The X-24A flew from April 17, 1969 to June 4, 1971. The M2-F3 flew from June 2, 1970 until December 20, 1972. The HL-10 flew from December 22, 1966 until July 17, 1970 and logged the highest and fastest records in the lifting body program. Black & white photograph.
 
 
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NASA X-24B cockpit instrumentation panel NASA X-24B cockpit instrumentation panel
 NASA X-24B cockpit instrumentation panel. The X-24B was the last aircraft to fly in the Dryden Flight Research Center's Lifting Body program. The X-24B's design evolved from a family of potential reentry shapes, each with higher lift-to-drag ratios, proposed by the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory.  Martin X-24A was later modified into the X-24B. The bulbous shape of the X-24A was converted into a "flying flatiron" shape with a rounded top, flat bottom, and double delta platform that ended in a pointed nose. The X-24B demonstrated that accurate unpowered reentry vehicle landings were operationally feasible. Top speed achieved by the X-24B was 1,164 mph and the highest altitude it reached was 74,130 feet.
 
 
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NASA X-34B landing on Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards AFB NASA X-34B landing on Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards AFB
 The X-24B is seen here landing on Rogers Dry Lake, adjacent to the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California. The X-24B was the last aircraft to fly in Dryden's manned lifting body program.  The X-24B's design evolved from a family of potential reentry shapes, each with higher lift-to-drag ratios, proposed by the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory. The X-24B demonstrated that accurate unpowered reentry vehicle landings were operationally feasible top speed achieved by the X-24B was 1,164 mph and the highest altitude it reached was 74,130 feet.
 
 
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NASA's lifting body aircraft on Rogers Dry Lake, Edwards AFB NASA's lifting body aircraft on Rogers Dry Lake, Edwards AFB
 The wingless, lifting body aircraft sitting on Rogers Dry Lake at what is now NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, from left to right are the X-24A, M2-F3 and the HL-10. The lifting body aircraft studied the feasibility of maneuvering and landing an aerodynamic craft designed for reentry from space. These lifting bodies were air launched by a B-52 mother ship, then flew powered by their own rocket engines before making an unpowered approach and landing. They helped validate the concept that a space shuttle could make accurate landings without power.  The X-24A flew from April 17, 1969 to June 4, 1971. The M2-F3 flew from June 2, 1970 until December 22, 1972. The HL-10 flew from December 22, 1966 until July 17, 1970, and logged the highest and fastest records in the lifting body program.
 
 
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NASA's lifting body aircraft sitting on Rogers Dry Lake NASA's lifting body aircraft sitting on Rogers Dry Lake
 The wingless, lifting body aircraft sitting on Rogers Dry Lake at what is now NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, from left to right are the X-24A, M2-F3 and the HL-10. The lifting body aircraft studied the feasibility of maneuvering and landing an aerodynamic craft designed for reentry from space. These lifting bodies were air launched by a B-52 mother ship, then flew powered by their own rocket engines before making an unpowered approach and landing. They helped validate the concept that a space shuttle could make accurate landings without power.
 
 
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Pilot Colonel Michael Love with Martin X-24B Pilot Colonel Michael Love with Martin X-24B
 Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Michael V. Love in front of the X-24B lifting-body research vehicle at Edwards Air Force Base in 1973. Love was assigned as a project pilot on the joint NASA-USAF X-24B Lifting Body flight test program at the NASA Flight Research Center.  Love flew it to a speed of Mach 1.76 on October 25, 1974, a record for the X-24B. Love attended the USAF Test Pilot School and remained as an instructor there from 1969 through 1971. He was a test pilot at Edwards when assigned to fly to the X-24B. Love was a combat veteran of Vietnam and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf clusters. Love perished while attempting an emergency landing in an RF-4C on March 1, 1976.
 
 
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Side view of X-24A Lifting Body on lakebed, Edwards AFB Side view of X-24A Lifting Body on lakebed, Edwards AFB
This side-rear view of the X-24A Lifting Body on the lakebed by the NASA Flight Research Center shows its control surfaces used for subsonic flight. The X-24 was one of a group of lifting bodies flown by the NASA Flight Research Center (now Dryden Flight Research Center), Edwards, California, in a joint program with the U.S. Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base from 1963 to 1975. The lifting bodies were used to demonstrate the ability of pilots to maneuver and safely land wingless vehicles designed to fly back to Earth from space and be landed like an airplane at a predetermined site.
 
 
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Technician beside the X-24A in wind tunnel testing Technician beside the X-24A in wind tunnel testing
This photo shows a technician dwarfed beside the X-24A in a full-scale wind tunnel. The X-24A is tan in this photo because it is covered with a simulated ablative coating, which was being investigated as a possible method of protecting vehicles from the heat of high-speed flight. The X-24A was flown 28 times in the program that, like the HL-10, validated the concept that a Space Shuttle vehicle could be landed unpowered. The fastest speed achieved by the X-24A was 1,036 miles per hour (mph--Mach 1.6). Its maximum altitude was 71,400 feet. It was powered by an XLR-11 rocket engine with a maximum theoretical vacuum thrust of 8,480 pounds.
 
 
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Test aircraft X-24A, M2-F3 & HL-10 Test aircraft X-24A, M2-F3 & HL-10
 The wingless, lifting body aircraft sitting on Rogers Dry Lake at what is now NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, from left to right are the X-24A, M2-F3 and the HL-10. The lifting body aircraft studied the feasibility of maneuvering and landing an aerodynamic craft designed for reentry from space. These lifting bodies were air launched by a B-52 mother ship, then flew powered by their own rocket engines before making an unpowered approach and landing. They helped validate the concept that a space shuttle could make accurate landings without power.  The X-24A flew from April 17, 1969 to June 4, 1971. The M2-F3 flew from June 2, 1970 until December 20, 1972. The HL-10 flew from December 22, 1966 until July 17, 1970, and logged the highest and fastest records in the lifting body program.
 
 
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Test pilot Cecil Powell with X-24 after flight Test pilot Cecil Powell with X-24 after flight
 Air Force test pilot Major Cecil Powell stands in front of the X-24A on the lakebed near the NASA Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, after a 1971 research flight.  The X-24 was one of a group of lifting bodies flown by the NASA Flight Research Center (now Dryden Flight Research Center), Edwards, California, in a joint program with the U.S. Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base from 1963 to 1975. The lifting bodies were used to demonstrate the ability of pilots to maneuver and safely land wingless vehicles designed to fly back to Earth from space and be landed like an airplane at a predetermined site.
 
 
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Test pilot Michael Love with X-24B lifting body Test pilot Michael Love with X-24B lifting body
 Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Michael V. Love in front of the X-24B lifting body research vehicle at Edwards Air Force Base in 1976. Love was assigned as a project pilot on the joint NASA-USAF X-24B Lifting Body flight test program at the NASA Flight Research Center. He made a total of 12 flights in the plane from October 4, 1973 until July 15, 1975.  Love flew it to a speed of Mach 1.76 on October 25, 1974, a record for the X-24B. Love attended the USAF Test Pilot School and remained as an instructor there from 1969 through 1971. He was a test pilot at Edwards when assigned to fly to the X-24B. Love was a combat veteran of Vietnam and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf clusters. Love perished while attempting an emergency landing in an RF-4C on March 1, 1976 – less than a month after this photo was taken.
 
 
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Test pilot William Dana with X-24B after flight Test pilot William Dana with X-24B after flight
 Test pilot William H. Dana wearing flight suit with the X-24B after his last powered lifting-body flight on September 23, 1975. In the late 1960s and in the 1970s Dana was a project pilot on the lifting-body program which flew several versions of the wingless vehicles and produced data that helped in development of the Space Shuttles. For his contributions to the lifting body program, Dana received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.
 
 
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X-24 left instrument & control panel X-24 left instrument & control panel
The left instrument and control panel in the cockpit of the Martin Marietta X-24A lifting body research vehicle. Built by Martin Aircraft Company, Maryland, for the U.S. Air Force, the X-24A was a bulbous vehicle shaped like a teardrop with three vertical fins at the rear for directional control. It weighed 6,270 pounds, was 24.5 feet long and 11.5 feet wide (measuring just the fuselage, not the distance between the tips of the outboard fins). Its first unpowered glide flight was on April 17, 1969, with Air Force Maj. Jerauld Gentry at the controls. Gentry also piloted its first powered flight on March 19, 1970.
 
 
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X-24A Lifting Body at Edwards AFB X-24A Lifting Body at Edwards AFB
 This 1968 photo shows the bulbous X-24A Lifting Body research vehicle on the lakebed adjacent to the NASA Flight Research Center. The X-24 was one of a group of lifting bodies flown by the NASA Flight Research Center (now Dryden Flight Research Center), Edwards, California, in a joint program with the U.S. Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base from 1963 to 1975.  The lifting bodies were used to demonstrate the ability of pilots to maneuver and safely land wingless vehicles designed to fly back to Earth from space and be landed like an airplane at a predetermined site.
 
 
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X-24A Lifting Body on lakebed at Edwards AFB X-24A Lifting Body on lakebed at Edwards AFB
This 1968 photo shows the bulbous X-24A Lifting Body research vehicle on the lakebed adjacent to the NASA Flight Research Center. The X-24 was one of a group of lifting bodies flown by the NASA Flight Research Center (now Dryden Flight Research Center), Edwards, California, in a joint program with the U.S. Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base from 1963 to 1975.  The lifting bodies were used to demonstrate the ability of pilots to maneuver and safely land wingless vehicles designed to fly back to Earth from space and be landed like an airplane at a predetermined site. Black & White photograph.
 
 
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X-24B flying overhead Edwards AFB after high speed flight X-24B flying overhead Edwards AFB after high speed flight
 The X-24B is seen here in flight over the lakebed at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California. The X-24B was the last aircraft to fly in Dryden's manned lifting body program.  Martin Marietta X-24B's design evolved from a family of potential reentry shapes, each with higher lift-to-drag ratios, proposed by the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory. Top speed achieved by the X-24B was 1,164 mph and the highest altitude it reached was 74,130 feet.
 
 
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X-24B landing with Lockheed F-104 chase plane X-24B landing with Lockheed F-104 chase plane
This 1975 photo shows the X-24B gliding to a landing on Rogers Dry Lake, adjacent to the NASA Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, as Space Shuttle orbiters would in the future. The X-24B demonstrated that accurate unpowered reentry vehicle landings were operationally feasible. Top speed achieved by the X-24B was 1,164 mph and the highest altitude it reached was 74,130 feet.
 
 
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X-24B lifting body over Edwards AFB X-24B lifting body over Edwards AFB
The X-24B is flight over the lakebed at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California. The X-24B was the last aircraft to fly in Dryden's manned lifting body program. The X-24B's design evolved from a family of potential reentry shapes, each with higher lift-to-drag ratios, proposed by the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory. The X-24A was later modified into the X-24B. The bulbous shape of the X-24A was converted into a "flying flatiron" shape with a rounded top, flat bottom, and double delta platform that ended in a pointed nose. The X-24B demonstrated that accurate unpowered reentry vehicle landings were operationally feasible. Top speed achieved by the X-24B was 1,164 mph and the highest altitude it reached was 74,130 feet. The vehicle is on display at the Air Force Museum, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The pilot on the last powered flight of the X-24B was Bill Dana, who also flew the last X-15 flight about seven years earlier.
 
 
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X-24B on lakebed after flight, Edwards AFB X-24B on lakebed after flight, Edwards AFB
The X-24B is seen here on the lakebed at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California. The X-24B was the last aircraft to fly in Dryden's Lifting Body program. The X-24B's design evolved from a family of potential reentry shapes, each with higher lift-to-drag ratios, proposed by the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory. Black & White photograph.
 
 
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X-24B on lakebed after flight, Edwards Air Force Base X-24B on lakebed after flight, Edwards Air Force Base
 Martin Marietta X-24B is seen here on the lakebed at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California. The X-24B was the last aircraft to fly in Dryden's Lifting Body program. The X-24B's design evolved from a family of potential reentry shapes, each with higher lift-to-drag ratios, proposed by the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory. Color photograph.
 
 
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