NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Flight without wings. An X-24A lifting body aircraft in high altitude ascent during test flight at Edwards Airforce Base, California, USA, circa 1970. The X-24 was the last in a line of lifting body research aircraft produced by the US. These 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, much as the Space Shuttle does today. The X-24A first flew on April 17, 1969. After release at 13,700 metres, the X-24A could reach altitudes of up to 71,400 feet (21.8 kilometres) and speeds of up to 1,036 miles per hour (1,667 kilometres per hour, Mach 1.4).
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