New:From 1959 through 1968 a decade-long research program employed the North American Aviation X-15 to explore hypersonic flight and technologies needed for space flight. The X-15's pioneering flights set records that still have not been broken four decades later, including a top speed of Mach 6.7 (4,520 mph) and a peak altitude of 354,200 feet (67 miles). While doing this it gathered engineering and scientific data needed to develop new families of aircraft and spacecraft, including the Space Shuttle.
Powerpoint-2010 presentation including real-time simulated replay of an X-15 flight
Remembering Neil Armstrong
On February 26, 2013, legislation was introduced in Congress to rename the home
of the X-15:
NASA Dryden will become NASA Armstrong -- the Neil Alden Armstrong Flight Research Centebr
The Western Aeronautical Test Range will be renamed to honor Dr. Hugh L. Dryden.
Introduction to the X-15 research program
Exploring Hypersonic History: An article written for a home-town newspaper
X-15: A "pilot report"
X-15 Adventure stories
Science and Engineering Achievements
People: Research pilots and others
50 years ago in X-15 history
X-15 Documents -- a web library
Best resources for more information
... on the web
... videos and other audio/visual media
... magazine articles
Beyond the aircraft is the human story, the people who made this research program a remarkable success. Many of the X-15 test pilots achieved fame, but not without risk and adventure -- One pilot died, another was gravely injured. Beyond the test pilots were literally hundreds of others who each contributed special talents and skills that were essential to the program.
This set of web pages seeks to document the history and tell the
stories of the X-15 program in ways not entirely possible in printed
to provide content not yet available in other web resources. Site
content will continue to grow in the coming years.
The majority of photos, drawings, and art in these X-15 web pages originate from NASA sources, particularly from NASA Dryden. Smaller sets of photographic content are from the US Air Force, North American Aviation, and some of my own photographs. In all cases I believe the material reproduced here to be released for noncommercial use or I seek permission to reproduce it.
I owe thanks to people too numerous to list here for their gracious
assistance and cooperation in my exploration of the history of the X-15
program. As these web pages mature, at some point I'll add a page
of specific individual credits.
Original painting of X-15 entering space is on display at NASA Dryden and is reproduced widely on the web and in printed sources. This particular copy of the image was imported from the NASA headquarters home page for X-15 history.
Animated images are excerpts from a film clip available on the NASA Dryden web site, NASA Movie Number EM-0033-03. The excerpts in .gif format shown here are borrowed from the web site of Scott Crossfield, first test pilot of the X-15 and a key contributor to its development as an aeronautical engineer with prior experience in rocket aircraft.