In X-15, the exciting story of the X-15 - the iconic rocket plane of the Cold War space race - is recounted by John Anderson, curator of aerodynamics at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. This experimental space plane was on the cutting edge of hypersonic aerodynamics, and its winged reentry from space foreshadowed the development of the Space Shuttle decades later. Launched from the wing of a modified B-52 bomber - again foretelling a concept that would be used decades later, in this case by Space Ship One and Space Ship Two - the ship rocketed higher and faster than any manned aircraft of the time. Designed to approach seven times the speed of sound, it was the first hypersonic aircraft ever created and was engineered to function both in the Earth's atmosphere and at the edge of space. Illustrated with period NASA and USAF photographs, as well as exclusive Smithsonian photography of the first of three X-15s built, X-15 captures the risks and dangers of the X-15 program as Anderson follows the test pilots (including Neil Armstrong) who pushed the very limits of their piloting skills to master groundbreaking experimental technology. Even with the fatal crash of the third X-15, the overall success of the program helped pave the way for NASA to continue to the Moon - and this is the definitive, expertly curated, and beautifully illustrated account of its development.
"This book offers a very thorough history of the X-15 program...a concise, yet detailed, introduction to the X-15. As rocket-powered aircraft take to the skies again this year above the Mojave Desert, this book reminds us of another era of such vehicles—and, perhaps, what might have been." - TheSpaceReview.com
"Authors John Anderson and Richard Passman's X-15: The World's Fastest Rocket Plane and the Pilots Who Ushered in the Space Age lays out the case for why the X-15 was and continues to be such an important aircraft. This book makes the reader want to visit the National Air and Space Museum and view the X-15 up-close in a whole new light, in which its aerospace accomplishments rank alongside other distinguished aircraft on display at the museum." - DefenseMediaNetwork.com
"The authors have crafted an excellent introductory story for this aircraft. This book is a good read and I can highly recommend it to anyone who wants to start to learn about this most remarkable airplane." - International Plastic Modelers Society
"Like the X-15 itself, this book is spectacular. John Anderson and Richard Passman treat readers to an insightful and accessible description of the famous rocket plane from its inception. Fabulous photographs punctuate the text. This handsome volume excels in telling the story from start to finish. Anyone interested in the glory years of research flight will want a copy." - Aviation History
"... this book provides new insight into one of the most important, and fascinating, 'X-planes' of the 20th century." - Aviation Week