SCOPE: This footage is of special re-entry gliders, or lifting bodies, which are being tested to allow future astronauts to leave the space capsule and pilot themselves to a safe landing at conventional landing fields.
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Background: SCOPE: This footage is of special re-entry gliders, or lifting bodies, which are being tested to allow future astronauts to leave the space capsule and pilot themselves to a safe landing at conventional landing fields.
BACKGROUND: One of the most dangerous portions of any maned space flight is the re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. Special re-entry gliders, or lifting bodies, are being developed and tested which will allow future astronauts to pilot themselves to safe landing at conventional airfields. Undergoing its initial flight tests is the newest of these lifting bodies--the X-24B.
This is an advanced piloted lifting body capable of high speed flight and high maneuverability at extreme altitudes and landings on conventional runways. The joint (National Aeronautical and Space Administration) NASA-Air Force test program at Edwards AFB, California, is designed to gather flight performance data at speeds ranging from 1,000 miles an hour to the 200 miles an hour landing speed.
Under the wing of a modified B-52, the 37 feet long X-24B is carried to 45,000 feet. After separation, a rocket motor propels the lifting body to 60,000 feet, where it begins its four minute glide to earth. The X-24B's delta shape design provides effective lift and maneuverability.
With chase aircraft following closely, the lifting body lands on a dry lake bed, using conventional landing gear. With the ability to pilot and land his re-entry vehicle, the astronaut will no longer be limited to parachute landings at sea. Besides its importance to the Space Shuttle Program, the X-24B promises to make he recover of our astronauts much safer and economical. The X-24B will continue testing through 1975.