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The X-24B is seen here landing on Rogers Dry Lake, adjacent to the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California. The X-24B was the last aircraft to fly in Dryden's manned lifting body program.
The X-24 was one of a group of lifting bodies flown by the NASA Flight Research Center (now Dryden Flight Research Center), Edwards, California, in a joint program with the U.S. Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base from 1963 to 1975. The lifting bodies were used to demonstrate the ability of pilots to maneuver and safely land wingless vehicles designed to fly back to Earth from space and be landed like an airplane at a predetermined site.
Built by Martin Aircraft Company, Maryland, for the U.S. Air Force, the X-24A was a bulbous vehicle shaped like a teardrop with three vertical fins at the rear for directional control. The X-24A was flown 28 times in the program that, like the HL-10, validated the concept that a Space Shuttle vehicle could be landed unpowered.
The X-24A was later modified into the X-24B. The bulbous shape of the X-24A was converted into a "flying flatiron" shape with a rounded top, flat bottom, and double delta platform that ended in a pointed nose. The X-24B demonstrated that accurate unpowered reentry vehicle landings were operationally feasible. Top speed achieved by the X-24B was 1,164 mph and the highest altitude it reached was 74,130 feet.
Date Taken: 1975