National Aeronautics and Space Administration or more commonly known by its abbreviation NASA is the independent agency operating in the United States under their Federal Government which is responsible mainly for their Civilian Space Program. In addition to this, it has also been tasked with primary goals like the aerospace and aeronautical research. The company was founded back in 1958 after it succeeded the US’s National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.
Today we bring to our readers a list of the stunning experimental aircraft of NASA that they have used over the years.
After four decades of research conducted on the supersonic-combustion ramjet propulsion, it gave broth to the first successful flight carried out by the X-43A (Hyper-X) which demonstrated its hypersonic technology back in March of 2004. At that time, it was the first-ever aircraft with Scramjet to have made the flight freely.
X-38 Crew Return Vehicle
Only 2 airframes were ever built for the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle and in total, they flew for 15 missions in between the years 1997 to 2001.
The company behind the design and manufacturing of the Boeing X-36 was Boeing Phantom Works which designed a total of 2 aircraft. These two aircraft in total flew for nearly 33 missions in between the years 1997 to 1998.
Orbital Sciences Corporation X-34
Orbital Sciences Corporation X-34 is the final product for the space missions designed and manufactured by the company known as Orbital Science Corp. the company manufactured a total of 3 of these Orbital Sciences Corporation X-34s. However, these 3 Orbital Sciences Corporation X-34s flew for only 3 flights from the year 1999 to 2001.
Lockheed Martin X-33
Lockheed Martin was selected by NASA back in the 90s to design and manufacture an aircraft for their space mission and aeronautical testings; the product of that project was the Lockheed Martin X-33. The test conducted to perform the flight of this vehicle was named as Advanced Technology Demonstrator Test and it took place from March to December of 1999.
Three major aircraft manufacturers by the name Rockwell Aerospace, Deutsche Aerospace and North American Aircraft get together to design and manufacture the Rockwell-MBB X-31. Two airframes of this aircraft were manufactured that completed nearly 555 flights from 1990 to 1995.
Grumman Corp. manufactured 2 of the Grumman X-29s which completed nearly 437 flights for the NASA from 1984 to 1992.
North American Aviation XB-70 Valkyrie
NASA gave the project to North American Aircraft for developing 2 airframes for the North American Aviation XB-70 Valkyrie. The aircraft went on to serve nearly 129 flight missions of different aeronautical and aerospace endeavors for NASA from 1964 to 1969.
X-24B Lifting Body
The project for the X-24B Lifting Body was one of the biggest projects that were carried out by the joint efforts of NASA, Lockheed Martin, and United State Air Force. Only a single one of the aircraft airframe was developed and it flew for 36 missions from 1973 to 1075.
X-24A Lifting Body
X-24A Lifting Body is another joint project between three major players in the aerospace industry of US; NSA, USAF and Lockheed Martin. The aircraft shared the same name as the X-24B Lifting Body but was predecessor version of the X-24B Lifting Body. It flew for nearly 28 missions from 1969 to 1971.
M2-F3 Lifting Body
The M2-F3 Lifting Body was a project between Northrop Corporation and NASA and only a single one of the M2-F3 Lifting Body was ever manufactured. The aircraft took to the skies for 26 times from 1970 to 1972.
M2-F2 Lifting Body
The M2-F2 Lifting Body is a predecessor for the M2-F3 Lifting Body that came into being as a joint effort between the Northrop Corp and NASA. A single airframe of the M2-F2 Lifting Body was manufactured that carried out nearly 16 flight missions from 1966 to 1967.
North American Aviation X-15
The North American Aviation X-15 was designed and manufactured by the North American Aviation back in the late 50s. The company manufactured a total of 3 airframes of this aircraft. The aircraft was one for the sot crucial aircraft for flight missions of NASA and carried out full 199 flights from 1959 to 1968.
Bell X-5 is the aircraft that was developed by the Bell Aircraft back in the early 50’s to serve for the NACA and the US Air Force. With both these organizations, Bell X-5 flew for 133 missions from 1951 to 1953.
Northrop X-4 Bantam
Another glorious product for the Northrop is the Northrop X-4 Bantam which was developed in the late 40s to serve for the NACA. Two airframes for the Northrop X-4 Bantam were manufactured and they took to the skies for 90 flights from 1948 to 1953.
Douglas X-3 Stiletto
The company named Douglas Aircraft manufactured a single airframe for the Douglas X-3 Stiletto and served the NACA for over 26 flight missions from 1952 to m1955.
Bell X-2 Starbuster
Bell Aircraft designed and manufactured 2 airframes for the Bell X-2 Starbuster aircraft which took to the skies for nearly 17 times for NACA missions from 1954 to 1956.
Convair XF-92A Dart
Convair designed and manufactured the Convair XF-92A Dart and actually built only 1 of the airframes fro this iconic aircraft. The aircraft was one of a kind in its prowess to tear through the skies and that is why it flew for nearly 325 flight missions for the NACA from 1949 to 1953.
Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket
Douglas also manufactured the aircraft by the name Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket and actually went on to build 3 airframes for this aircraft to serve for 312 flight missions of NACA from 1948 to 1956.
Douglas D-558-I Skystreak
Another major contribution for the NACA made by Douglas Aircraft was the Douglas D-558-I Skystreak. Douglas Aircraft went on to manufacture nearly 3 of these aircraft that took nearly 225 flights from 1947 to 1953. The aircraft was made possible by the joint efforts of the three major aviation players at that time in the USA; the NACA, The Douglas Aircraft and the Navy-Marine Corps.
X-48C Hybrid Wing Body
The X-48C is the improvement of the design of its predecessor named X-48B. This aircraft was designed and then manufactured in order to investigate the characteristics for a BWB (Blended Wing Body) aircraft. The X-48B was later modified into the X-48C and two models of it were manufactured. The aircraft took to the skies from 2012 to 2013. Based on the data accumulated from the flights of X-48C, NASA and Boeing are now planning to develop an even larger BEWB aircraft.