Martin Marietta X-24A

The X-24 was a U.S. experimental aircraft. She was part of a joint research program of the USAF and NASA entitled PILOT. With the X- 24, the concept of the lifting Bodies should be tested, in which the necessary buoyancy is achieved only by the shape of the hull. In addition, experiments for the non-driven re-entry as well as the controlled unpowered landing were performed, the results of the Space Shuttle use found later.

The X -24A was the fourth of a series of wing- less experimental aircraft that were tested 1963-1975. Other machines were:

  • NASA M2 -F1 (1964 )
  • Northrop HL -10 ( 1966)
  • Northrop M2 -F2 (1968 )
  • Northrop M2 -F3 (1970 )

The test flights took place in California in the NASA Flight Research Center (now Dryden Flight Research Center ) and at Edwards Air Force Base. With these experiments, it was shown that wing and unpowered aircraft can be safely controlled and targeted landed.

The aircraft bore the marking 66-13551.

X -24A

The X -24A was built by Martin Marietta and flew from Edwards AFB in California from. She had a squat teardrop shape with a rounded top, flat bottom and a short, triple tail. It was powered by a single XLR -11 rocket engine with four combustion chambers and a maximum thrust of 37.7 kN. The engine was only used to increase the height and speed after the aircraft had been thrown from the aircraft carrier.

The first ( unpowered ) flight took place on April 17, 1969; Pilot was Major Jerauld Gentry. On March 19, 1970 the first powered flight, also with Gentry in the cockpit. The X -24A was carried by a modified Boeing B- 52 bombers to about 13,700 m height and notched there both in the driven as well as the non- powered flights. By connecting the rocket engine, the aircraft then could rise even higher before the actual gliding began. The X -24A flew a total of 28 times reaching speeds of up to 1667 km / h and altitudes up to 21.8 km.

The test pilots of the X -24A were:

  • Jerauld R. Gentry ( 13 flights )
  • John A. Manke ( 12 flights )
  • Cecil W. Powell ( 3 flights )

After completion of the test, the machine was brought to Martin Marietta and there converted to the X- 24B.

X -24B

Although it was based on the same aerodynamic concept, the X -24B differed greatly from its predecessor externally. The most striking differences were a sharper bow and the recessed cockpit; also the tail was modified. This basic form was later also used for the Martin SV -5J and the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle ( CRV). The engine was retained, however.

John A. Manke controlled the X -24B in both the non-drive first flight on 1 August 1973 and the first flight with a rocket engine on 15 November of the same year. In the total of 36 flights ( including 26 with drive ) reached the X -24B speeds up to 1873 km / h and altitudes up to 22,600 m.

The test pilot of the X -24B were:

  • John A. Manke ( 16 flights )
  • Michael V. Love ( 12 flights )
  • William H. Dana ( 2 flights )
  • Einar K. Enevoldson ( 2 flights )
  • Thomas C. McMurtry ( 2 flights )
  • Francis Scobee ( 2 flights )

Towards the end of the test program, the X -24B landed twice on a concrete runway to prove that with a lifting body aircraft targeted landing points can also be controlled.

The aircraft is now on display at Wright - Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio at the Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Technical data of the Martin- Marietta X -24 ( versions A and B)

The flights of the X -24A

The flights of the X -24B