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X-15A-2
Part of X-15 Family

X-15A-2

X-15A-2
Credit: NASA

American manned spaceplane. The crash-damaged X-15 number 2 was rebuilt to attain even higher speeds. The body frame was stretched, and two drop tanks were added, increasing propellant load by 75%. Reached Mach 6.7 and 108 km altitude.

Thrust: 262.45 kN (59,000 lbf). Gross mass: 25,455 kg (56,118 lb). Unfuelled mass: 8,317 kg (18,335 lb). Specific impulse: 276 s. Height: 15.47 m (50.75 ft). Diameter: 1.42 m (4.65 ft). Span: 6.80 m (22.30 ft).

An ablative heat shield was applied to protect the spaceplane during re-entry. The X-15A-2 reached the highest speeds and altitudes of any manned spaceplane until the space shuttle entered service.

The X-15A-2, modified from the number two aircraft and delivered to NASA in February 1964, included among other new features, a 28-in. fuselage extension to carry liquid hydrogen for a supersonic combustion ramjet that was flown (as a dummy) but never tested. It also had external tanks for liquid ammonia and liquid oxygen. These tanks provided roughly 60 seconds of additional engine burn and were used on the aircraft's Mach 6.7 flight. While adding to the speed the X-15 did achieve, the tanks also increased the aircraft's weight to almost 57,000 lb and added significantly to the drag experienced by the aircraft in flight.

700 hours was needed to refurbish the heat shield. The ablative covering had to be completely stripped off, then reapplied. After the record Mach 6.93 flight, the aircraft received thermal structural damage and the covering was severely pitted and charred. Repair was uneconomical and the aircraft was grounded.

Crew Size: 1. Spacecraft delta v: 2,020 m/s (6,620 ft/sec).

Data - X-15A-2

  • Stage 0. 1 x NB-52. Gross Mass: 177,273 kg (390,820 lb). Empty Mass: 70,545 kg (155,525 lb). Thrust (vac): 430.472 kN (96,774 lbf). Isp: 5,142 sec. Burn time: 48,000 sec. Isp(sl): 4,675 sec. Diameter: 14.72 m (48.29 ft). Span: 56.40 m (185.00 ft). Length: 47.74 m (156.62 ft). Propellants: Air/Kerosene. No Engines: 8. Engine: J57-19. Status: Out of Production. Comments: Boeing Bomber-swept wing. Maximum release conditions: Wing mounted, 25,000 kg (19.1 m length x 6.7 m span) at 880 kph at 11,448 m altitude.
  • Stage 1. 2 x X-15A-2 Tanks. Gross Mass: 7,026 kg (15,489 lb). Empty Mass: 902 kg (1,988 lb). Thrust (vac): 0.0000 N ( lbf). Isp: 276 sec. Burn time: 55 sec. Isp(sl): 239 sec. Diameter: 0.98 m (3.21 ft). Span: 0.98 m (3.21 ft). Length: 6.86 m (22.50 ft). Propellants: Lox/Ammonia. No Engines: 0. Engine: None. Status: Out of production.
  • Stage 2. 1 x X-15A-2. Gross Mass: 16,069 kg (35,426 lb). Empty Mass: 7,766 kg (17,121 lb). Thrust (vac): 262.445 kN (59,000 lbf). Isp: 276 sec. Burn time: 90 sec. Isp(sl): 239 sec. Diameter: 1.42 m (4.65 ft). Span: 6.80 m (22.30 ft). Length: 15.47 m (50.75 ft). Propellants: Lox/Ammonia. No Engines: 1. Engine: XLR-99. Status: Out of Production.

Family: aircraft-launched, Rocketplane, Spaceplane, Suborbital, US Rocketplanes. Country: USA. Engines: J57-19, None, XLR99. Propellants: Lox/Ammonia. Stages: X-15A-2 Tanks, NB-52, X-15A-2 stage. Agency: USAF, North American. More at: 7027. Bibliography: 38, 4312, 44, 459, 49, 97.


Photo Gallery

X-15 ablative coatX-15 ablative coat
X-15A-2 ablative coating
Credit: NASA


X-15C 3-viewX-15C 3-view
Credit: © Mark Wade


X15 DeltaX15 Delta



1964 February - .
  • The X-15A-2 delivered to NASA - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft Bus: X-15. Spacecraft: X-15A-2.

    The X-15A-2, modified from the number two aircraft, included among other new features, a 28-in. fuselage extension to carry liquid hydrogen for a supersonic combustion ramjet that was flown (as a dummy) but never tested. It also had external tanks for liquid ammonia and liquid oxygen. These tanks provided roughly 60 seconds of additional engine burn and were used on the aircraft's Mach 6.7 flight.



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