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November 11, 2013 - Wingless Flight

Wingless Flight Between 1963 and 1975, NASA and the U.S. Air Force conducted a series of tests of a new breed of oddly shaped research vehicles that paved the way for the space shuttle. Unlike conventional aircraft, which generate aerodynamic lift from their wings, these wingless craft generated lift solely from the shape of their bodies and were thus known as lifting bodies. The lifting bodies validated the notion that spacecraft could reenter the atmosphere and glide to a landing. Forty years ago this week, the final lifting body vehicle, the X-24B (above), made its first powered flight. After being released from its B-52 mothership, the X-24B attained a speed of 961 kph (600 mph) during nearly seven minutes of powered flight. On later flights, the X-24B achieved nearly twice that speed.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

November 11-17, 2013

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 11

Remembrance Day (Canada)
Veteran’s Day

Neptune 6° south of Moon

1875: Vesto Slipher born
1966: Gemini XII launched
1982: STS-5 Columbia launched

Moon phase Tuesday 12

1833: Great Leonid Meteor Shower
1980: Voyager 1 flies past Saturn
1981: STS-2 Columbia launched

Moon phase Wednesday 13

Neptune appears stationary
Uranus 3° south of Moon

1971: Mariner 9 becomes first spacecraft to orbit Mars
1978: Einstein Observatory (HEAO-2) launched

Moon phase Thursday 14

1969: Apollo 12 launched, second lunar landing mission
2008: STS-126 Endeavour launched
2011: Soyuz TMA-22 launched carrying ISS Expedition 29/30 crew

Moon phase Friday 15

1738: William Herschel born
1973: First powered flight of X-24B lifting body
1988: Green Bank 300-foot radio telescope collapses
1988: Soviet Shuttle Buran launched

Moon phase Saturday 16

1962: Saturn SA-3 launched
1973: Skylab 4 crew launched on 84-day mission
1974: Interstellar message broadcast from Arecibo radio telescope
2009: STS-129 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Sunday 17

Full Moon 10:16 AM ET
Mercury greatest elongation (19° W)
Leonid meteor shower

1970: Luna 17 lands on Moon; Lunokhod 1 rover becomes first wheeled vehicle on Moon

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.