X-15 Flight 90

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Flight 90
Mission typeTest flight
OperatorUS Air Force/NASA
Mission duration11 minutes, 24 seconds
Distance travelled534 kilometers (332 mi)
Apogee106.01 kilometers (65.87 mi)
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerNorth American
Launch mass15,195 kilograms (33,499 lb)
Landing mass6,260 kilograms (13,800 lb)
Dry mass6,577 kilograms (14,500 lb)
Crew size1
MembersJoseph A. Walker
Start of mission
Launch dateJuly 19, 1963, 18:20:05 (1963-07-19UTC18:20:05Z) UTC
Launch siteBalls 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 dateJuly 19, 1963, 18:31:29.1 (1963-07-19UTC18:31:30Z) UTC
Landing siteRogers Dry Lake, Edwards

X-15 Flight 90 pilot, Joe Walker 

Flight 90 of the North American X-15 was a research flight conducted by NASA and the US Air Force on July 19, 1963. It was the first of two X-15 missions that passed the 100-km high Kármán line, the FAI definition of space, along with Flight 91 the next month. The X-15 was flown by Joseph A. Walker, who flew both X-15 spaceflights over the Kármán line.


Position Astronaut
Pilot United States Joseph A. Walker
First (FAI-recognized) / Second (U.S.-recognized) spaceflight

Mission parameters[edit]

  • Mass: 15,195 kg fueled; 6,577 kg burnout; 6,260 kg landed
  • Maximum Altitude: 106.01 km., 347,800 feet
  • 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