carrier aircraft

carrier aircraft

North American X-15

11h ago
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Description

The North American X-15 was a rocket-powered aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as part of the X-plane series of experimental aircraft. The X-15 set speed and altitude records in the early 1960s, reaching the edge of outer space and returning with valuable data used in aircraft and spacecraft design. As of 2013, the X-15 holds the official world record for the fastest speed ever reached by a manned aircraft. Its maximum speed was 4,520 miles per hour (7,274 km/h). Design and development: The X-15 was based on a concept study from Walter Dornberger for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) for a hypersonic research aircraft.[4] The requests for proposal were published on 30 December 1954 for the airframe and on 4 February 1955 for the rocket engine. The X-15 was built by two manufacturers: North American Aviation was contracted for the airframe in November 1955, and Reaction Motors was contracted for building the engines in 1956. Like many X-series aircraft, the X-15 was designed to be carried aloft on, and drop launched from, the wing of a NASA B-52 mother ship, the Balls 8. Release took place at an altitude of about 8.5 miles (13.7 km) and a speed of about 500 miles per hour (805 km/h).[5] The X-15 fuselage was long and cylindrical, with rear fairings that flattened its appearance, and thick, dorsal and ventral wedge-fin stabilizers. Parts of the fuselage were heat-resistant nickel alloy (Inconel-X 750).[4] The retractable landing gear comprised a nose-wheel carriage and two rear skis. The skis did not extend beyond the ventral fin, which required the pilot to jettison the lower fin (fitted with a parachute) just before landing. Cockpit and pilot systems: The X-15 was a research aircraft, and there were changes to it over the course of the program and between the different airframes. The X-15 had to be operated under several different situations including the time attached to a carrier aircraft, drop, main engine start and acceleration, a ballistic flight into thin air/space, re-entry into thicker air, and an unpowered glide to landing. Alternatively, if the main engine was not started the pilot needed to go directly to a landing. The main rocket engine only operated for a relatively short part of the flight, but was capable of boosting the X-15 to its high-speeds and altitudes. Without the main engine on, the X-15's instruments and control surfaces remained functional, but the plane could not maintain altitude. The X-15 had an ejection seat that allowed ejection at speeds up to Mach 4 and/or 120,000 feet (37 km) altitude, although it was not used during the program.[8] In the event of ejection, the seat had deployable fins which were used until it reached a safer speed/altitude, where it could deploy its main parachute.[8] Pilots wore a pressure suit, which could be pressurized with nitrogen gas.[8] Above 35,000 feet (11 km) altitude, the cockpit was pressurized to 3.5 psi (0.24 atm) with nitrogen gas, and oxygen for breathing was fed separately to the pilot. Engines and fuel: Early flights used two Reaction Motors XLR11 engines. Later flights were undertaken with a single Reaction Motors Inc XLR99 rocket engine generating 57,000 pounds-force (250 kN) of thrust. The XLR99 engine used ammonia and liquid oxygen for propellant and hydrogen peroxide to drive the high-speed turbopump that delivered fuel to the engine.[6] It could burn 15,000 pounds (6,804 kg) of fuel in 80 seconds.[6] The XLR99s could be throttled, and were the first such controllable engines that were man-rated. Specifications (X-15)[edit] Other configurations include the Reaction Motors XLR11 equipped X-15, and the long version. General characteristics Crew: one Length: 50 ft 9 in (15.45 m) Wingspan: 22 ft 4 in (6.8 m) Height: 13 ft 6 in (4.12 m) Wing area: 200 ft2 (18.6 m2) Empty weight: 14,600 lb (6,620 kg) Loaded weight: 34,000 lb (15,420 kg) Max. takeof...