X-15 Flight 90

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Flight 90
Mission type Test flight
Operator US Air Force/NASA
Mission duration 11 minutes, 24 seconds
Distance travelled 534 kilometers (332 mi)
Apogee 106.01 kilometers (65.87 mi)
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft X-15
Manufacturer North American
Launch mass 15,195 kilograms (33,499 lb)
Landing mass 6,260 kilograms (13,800 lb)
Dry mass 6,577 kilograms (14,500 lb)
Crew size 1
Members Joseph A. Walker
Start of mission
Launch date July 19, 1963, 18:20:05 (1963-07-19UTC18:20:05Z) UTC
Launch site Balls 8, Edwards
Dropped over Smith Ranch Dry Lake
39°20′N 117°29′W / 39.333°N 117.483°W / 39.333; -117.483
End of mission
Landing date July 19, 1963, 18:31:29.1 (1963-07-19UTC18:31:30Z) UTC
Landing site Rogers Dry Lake, Edwards
X-15 Flight 90 pilot, Joe Walker

Flight 90 of the North American X-15 was a test flight conducted by NASA and the US Air Force in 1963. It was the first of two X-15 missions that reached space, along with Flight 91 the next month. The X-15 was flown by Joseph A. Walker, who flew both X-15 spaceflights.


Position Astronaut
Pilot Joseph A. Walker
First spaceflight

Mission parameters[edit]

  • Mass: 15,195 kg fueled; 6,577 kg burnout; 6,260 kg landed
  • Maximum Altitude: 106.01 km
  • Range: 534 km
  • Burn Time: 84.6 seconds
  • Mach: 5.50
  • Launch Vehicle: NB-52B Bomber #008

Mission highlights[edit]

Maximum Speed - 5,971 km/h. Maximum Altitude - 106,010 m. 80 cm diameter balloon towed on 30 m line to measure air density. First X-15 flight over 100 km (a height known as the Kármán line). This made Walker the first US civilian in space.[1] This was also the first spaceflight of a spaceplane in aviation history. First flight launched over Smith Dry Lake, NV. Experiments: Towed balloon, horizon scanner, photometer, infrared and ultraviolet. Balloon instrumentation failed.

The mission was flown by X-15 #3, serial 56-6672 on its 21st flight.

Launched by: NB-52B #008, Pilots Fulton & Bement. Takeoff: 17:19. UTC Landing: 19:04 UTC.

Chase pilots: Crews, Dana, Rogers, Daniel and Wood.

The X-15 engine burned about 85 seconds. Near the end of the burn, acceleration built up to about 4g (39 m/s²). Weightlessness lasted for 3 to 5 minutes. Re-entry heating warmed the exterior of the X-15 to 650 °C in places. During pull up after re-entry, the acceleration built up to 5g (49 m/s²) for 20 seconds. The entire flight lasted about 12 minutes from launch to landing.


  1. ^ Evans, Larry (November 27, 2006). "Higher & Faster: Memorial Fund Established for X-15 pilot". TechMediaNetwork. Space.com. Retrieved May 4, 2010. 


  • Goodwin, Robert (2000). X-15: the NASA mission reports, incorporating files from the USAF. Burlington, Ontario: Apogee Books. ISBN 1-896522-65-3. 
  • Jenkins, Dennis R. (2000), Hypersonics Before the Shuttle: A Concise History of the X-15 Research Airplane, NASA Technical Reports, NASA, hdl:2060/20000068530; Document ID: 20000068530 
  • Price, A. B. (1968), Thermal protection system X-15A-2 Design Report, NASA Technical Reports, NASA, hdl:2060/19680016245; Document ID: 19680016245 
  • Stillwell, W. H. (1965), X-15 research results with a selected bibliography, NASA Technical Reports, NASA, hdl:2060/19650010561; Document ID: 19650010561 
  • Watts, Joe D. (1968), Flight experience with shock impingement and interference heating on the X-15-2 research airplane, NASA Technical Reports, NASA, hdl:2060/19920075739; Document ID: 19920075739