NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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X-24B aircraft. The X-24B aircraft was the last in a line of US lifting body research aircraft. They gained aerodynamic lift from the shape of the fuselage, rather than from wings. All were used to show that a re-entering spacecraft could be flown to a precise landing, as was the later Space Shuttle. The X-24B first flew on 1 August 1973, and was retired on 23 September 1975. After release at 15,350 metres, it could reach altitudes of 29,200 metres and speeds of 1860 kilometres per hour (Mach 1.76) powered by a rocket engine. Photographed in 1973, at Dryden Flight Research Center, California, USA.
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