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AMERICA's FORGOTTEN ASTRONAUTS

By David J. Shayler and Philip W. Snowdon

Introduction

SCOTT CROSSFIELD, test-pilot of North American Aviation, who flew the X-15 research aircraft in initial trials. Altogether he made 14 flights between 8 June 1959 and 12 June 1960.

North American Aviation

In addition to the 73 astronauts assigned to NASA in the 1959-1969 period[l] America had other groups of men engaged in astronaut training in the same period. Not all of these men are well known and it is the purpose of this article to reveal these groups and the men who formed them.

The astronaut-candidates were assigned to the USAF X-20 Dyna-Soar and Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) programmes; several pilots of the X-15 research aircraft attained the astronaut rating when flying the plane, and USAF officers were assigned to a training programme for future USAF space programmes. It is on these areas that we shall mainly concentrate, but in addition America's involvement in the selection of Payload Specialists for the first few Spacelab missions will be covered.

The Programmes
The X-15 research aircraft was evolved from design studies back in 1952 and the first of three aircraft was rolled out in October 1958; for details of the X-15 programme see [2]. Pilots for the joint USAF/NACA/USN programme were selected in 1958. Four men were chosen, Captain Iven Kincheloe, USAF, who at the time was the world altitude record holder at 126,200ft, and was a former X-2 pilot; from the Navy was Lt.Commander Forrest "Pete" Peterson; the NACA pilot was Joseph Walker; and contract pilot from North American Aviation was Scott Crossfield, who would be the first to pilot the aircraft.

In June 1958 Kincheloe was killed following a flame-out of his F-104 shortly after take-off; he attempted to eject but was too low to survive. His place in the X-15 programme was taken by his backup Major Robert M. White, USAF. In October 1958 the programme was taken over from NACA by the newly formed NASA and in the spring of 1959 four captive flights were made followed by the first of 199 free flights on 8 June 1959. The first flight under power was made on 17 September 1959. All these early flights were by Crossfield. A full flight log of all X-15 free flights can be found in ref [3].

Meanwhile, in April 1959, NASA had selected the first seven astronauts for the Mercury programme giving America her first astronauts. Throughout 1960-1968 the X-15 was stretched to the limits of its design and after further modifications, three aircraft gained invaluable experience in hypersonic flight and supplemented the manned space programmes of America in the same period. They were also to provide invaluable data for the evolution of the Space Shuttle.

In 1960 four other pilots were selected to fly the X-15 aircraft in a series of engineering missions: Lt.Commander Forrest S. Peterson, USN; John B. McKay, NASA; Neil A. Armstrong, NASA; and Robert A. Rushworth, USAF. Also in 1960 Cross-field left the X-15 programme and returned to North American Aviation[4].

Dyna-Soar In 1961 the USAF initiated its man-in-space programme with the X-20 Dyna-Soar project designed to perform basically the mission outline of the launch and recovery of the present day Space Shuttle. The "space-glider" was to have been launched, atop of standard launch vehicle, into orbit and extend the research capabilities of the X-15 and provide first hand data and experience in controlling a winged spacecraft and its reentry and conventional landing on a runway. The programme was not to develop experience in orbital flight but in the area of controlled precision re-entry and landing[5].

As part of the USAF preparation of its space programmes involving manned spacecraft the USAF organized three 8-month training courses between March and October 1962 at the Air Force Aerospace Pilots Training School, Edwards AFB, California; a total of 23 astronauts designees were chosen in three groups[6] as shown in Table 1. It will be noted that in Group 1, and listed as a Pilot Engineer Consultant, appears the name of Neil Armstrong; he was selected for this assignment whilst still assigned to the X-15 programme. Following the last flight in that plane he turned his attention full time to the X-20 programme whilst awaiting assignment to the NASA astronaut group.

In 1962 two pilots left the X-15 programme. Peterson returned to the Navy after making five flights in the aircraft; and White returned to the USAF. Meanwhile on 17 September 1962 NASA had selected its second Group of astronauts, which included Neil Armstrong. His place in the group assigned by the USAF to the Dyna-Soar programme was taken by Albert L. Crews from Group 2. It is possible that had Armstrong not been selected by NASA he would have been assigned to the Dyna-Soar project instead.

Three days after the NASA announcement of the "New Nine", which also included James A. McDivvitt who chose NASA instead of the X-15 programme[7] on 20 September the USAF announced the names of the six men who were to fly the Dyna-Soar. They were Crews; Gordon; Knight; Rogers; Thompson and Wood, the 1st Group of USAF astronaut designees.

Some 12 months later the USAF cancelled the Dyna-Soar programme in favour of developing a Manned Orbiting Laboratory and six Dyna-Soar pilots were re-assigned to other duties. Crews stayed with MOL; Gordon returned to active duty with the USAF; Knight became an experimental Test Pilot at Edwards; Rogers also returned to active duty with the USAF; Thompson transferred to the X-15 programme, and Wood too returned to the USAF.
TABLE 1   USAF ASTRONAUT DESIGNEE GROUPS
Group 1 Selected 15 March 1962. (Pilot Engineer Consultants)
Neil A. Armstrong, NASA
Capt. W. J. Knight, USAF
M. L. Thompson, NASA
Capt. H. C. Gordon, USAF
Capt. R. L. Rogers, USAF
Maj. J. W. Wood, USAF
Group 2 Selected 20 April 1962. (Biog. Data from Assoc. Press Release 20 Apr 1962)
Capt. A. H. Crews, USAF
Capt. T. W. Twinting, USAF
Maj. D. L. Sorlie, USAF
Maj. B. F. Knolle, USAF
Capt. C. C. Bock, USAF
Capt. R.W. Smith, USAF
Capt. R. H. Mclntosh, USAF
Lt.-Com. L. N. Hoover, USN
Group 3 Selected 22 October 1962. (Biog. Data from "Washington Post" 23 Oct 1962)
Capt. A. L. Atwell, USAF
Major T. D. Benefield, USAF
Capt. N. R. Garland, USAF
Capt. E. G. Givens, USAF
Capt. J. A. Roman, USAF
Capt. C. A. Bassett, USAF
Capt. M. Collins, USAF
Capt. J. M. Engle, USAF
Capt. F. G. Neubeck, USAF
Capt. A. H. Uhalt, USAF

Other events in 1963 were the appointment of Captain Joseph H. Engle, USAF, to X-15 in June. In October NASA selected a further 14 astronauts, among them ex-USAF astronaut designees (Group 3) Bassett and Collins, and X-15 pilot Walker left the programme to become a test pilot at Edwards AFB. In 1964 a tenth pilot was assigned to the X-15 project, Captain William Knight, who was originally one of the Dyna-Soar pilots.

MOL Astronauts

Another pilot was chosen for the X-15 programme in 1965, civilian William Dana. The same year the USAF selected the first group of astronauts to be assigned to the MOL programme on 12 November 1965. Eight men were chosen: Michael J. Adams; Albert H. Crews, both USAF; John Lawrence Finley, USN; Richard E. Lawyer, USAF; Lachlan Macleay, USAF; Francis G. Neaubeck, USAF; James A. Taylor, USAF and Richard H. Truly, USN.

A second Group of pilots was assigned to the MOL programme on 17 June 1966: Karol J. Bobko, USAF; Robert Laurel Crippen, USN; Charles G. Fullerton, USAF; Henry W. Harts-field, Jr., USAF and Robert F. Overmyer, USMC. In 1967 four more were selected: James A. Abrahamson, USAF; Robert T. Herres, USAF; Robert H. Lawrence, USAF and Donald H. Peterson, USAF; bringing the total to seventeen. The MOL programme was originally conceived to determine the usefulness of man in space in a military role and was to rely on the experience gained in the Gemini programme using that spacecraft as a ferry and the Titan III launch vehicle which was to have boosted the MOL into orbit with the Gemini on top; the spacecraft was then to return to Earth after a mission lasting about 30 days.

X-15 continues

While the USAF continued with MOL several events in the years 1966-67 were marked in the X-15 programme. In March 1966 Neil Armstrong, an ex-X-15 pilot, flew into orbit aboard Gemini 8. Another pilot, Joseph Engle, was selected for NASA's fifth group of astronauts (also selected with Engle was Charles M. Duke, USAF)[8], Robert A. Rushworth left the X-15 programme in 1966 to return to the USAF after making 34 flights in that aircraft, the greatest number of any pilot. McKay also left the X-15 programme in 1966 from injuries sustained in the 1962 X-15 crash.

First of three X-15 research aircraft which blazed the trail into space. Note that the lower vertical stabiliser was removed while on the ground. Speed brakes were located on both vertical stabilisers.

North American Aviaton

Also in 1966 a MOL astronaut transferred to the X-15 programme, Adams became the 12th pilot to fly the aircraft and on 15 November 1967, on his seventh flight, was the first and only one of the twelve X-15 pilots to lose his life. He had succeeded in reaching an altitude of 266,000 ft (thereby attaining the Astronaut designation) but became disorientated and the plane went out of control and crashed near Johannesburg, California[9].

Another former X-15 pilot died on 8 June 1966, Joseph Walker, the second X-J5 pilot flew too close to an XB-70 aircraft in his F-104, and ripped into the larger craft's wing; both crashed killing the co-pilot of the XB-70 and Walker in the F-104; the pilot of the XB-70 successfully ejected but his co-pilot did not[10].

Two other forgotten astronauts died in 1967. On 13 September 1967 former X-20 Dyna-Soar pilot Russell L. Rogers lost his life in an explosion of his F-105 aircraft near Kandena Air Force Base, Okinawa; and on 8 December 1967 America's first negro astronaut, Robert H. Lawrence, Jr. of the MOL programme, died in the crash of an F-104 at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
TABLE 2   X-20 DYNA-SOAR AND MANNED

ORBITING LABORATORY (MOL) ASTRONAUTS BY GROUP
X-20 Dyna-Soar Astronauts - selected 20 September 1962

Capt. A. H. Crews, USAF
Capt. W. J. Kight, USAF
M. L. Thompson, NASA
Capt. H. C. Gordon, USAF
Capt. R. L. Rogers, USAF
Maj. J. W. Wood, USAF
Manned Orbiting Laboratory Astronauts:

Group 1, selected 12 November 1965

Maj. M. J. Adams, USAF
Lt.-Comdr. J. L. Finley, USN
Maj. L. Macleay, USAF
Maj. J. A. Taylor, USAF
Maj. A. H. Crews, USAF
Capt. R. E. Lawyer, USAF
Capt. F. G. Neubeck, USAF
Lt. R. H. Truly, USN
Group 2, selected 17 June 1966
Capt. K. J. Bobko, USAF
Capt. C. G. Fullerton, USAF
Capt. R. F. Overmyer, USMC
Lt. R. L. Crippen, USN
Capt. H. W. Hartsfield, USAF

Group 3, selected 30 June 1967
Maj. J. A. Abrahamson, USAF
Maj. R. A. Lawrence, USAF
Lt.-Col. R. T. Herres, USAF
Maj. D. H, Peterson, USAF

X-20 Dyna-Soar, the spaceplane intended to take over from the X-15 at the frontiers of space but which never flew.

Boeing Aerospace


Another abandoned project - an orbital version of the M-2 lifting body proposed by NASA's Ames Research Center in the early 'Sixies. It was meant to ferry astronauts to an orbiting space station.

NASA

On 21 January 1968, reductions in the NASA budget saw the end of the X-15 programme in sight, with the termination of the programme coming not later than 31 December 1968. In the final year of flight operations only the 1st aircraft was flown eight more times; the two pilots Dana and Knight flew the X-15 towards space, each one gaining experience for the Shuttle on which in 1968 NASA was beginning definitive studies. Although the 200th flight of the aircraft could not take place, the X-15 aircraft fully justified its design objectives in the 10 years of use, spanning the gap between conventional aircraft to spacecraft.

The two pilots who remained in the X-15 programme were reassigned following the end of the flight programme. Knight returned to active duty in the Air Force, while Dana became a research pilot at the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards, and was assigned to the lifting body programme there[11].

TABLE 3    X-15Pilots Summary (in order of first flight)
Pos.NameServiceSelectedFirst FlightLast FlightTotalGreatest Height
Attained (ft)
0.Kincheloe, I. C.USAF1958Killed before first X-15flight
1.Crossfield, A. S.NAA195806/08/5906/12/601488,116
2.*Walker, J. A.(2)NACA(NASA)195803/25/6008/22/6325354,200
3.*White, R. M. (1)USAF195804/13/6012/14/6216314,750
4.Petersen, F. S.USN195809/23/6001/10/625101,800
5.*McKay, J. B. (5)NASA196010/28/6009/08/6629295,600
6.*Rushworth, R. A. (3)USAF195811/04/6007/01/6634285,000
7.Armstrong, N. A.NASA196011/30/6007/26/627207,550
8.*Engle, J. H. (4)USAF196307/10/6310/14/6516280,600
9.Thompson, M.O.NASA196310/29/6308/25/6514214,100
10.*Knight, W. J. (7)USAF196409/30/6509/13/6816280,500
11.*Dana, W. H. (6)NASA196511/04/6510/24/6816306,900
12.*Adams, M. J. (8)USAF196611/29/6611/15/677266,000
*Attained Astronaut rating by flying X-15 aircraft above 264,000 feet (50 miles or 80 km), in order of attainment.

Cancellation of MOL
Meanwhile the MOL programme continued although no flights were made in 1968 as planned. But as the programme progressed into 1969 and with still no manned flight planned, the USAF began looking at a replacement project, unmanned this time, which would fulfill the MOL objectives on a much reduced budget. As this research increased, backing for the manned programme decreased until finally on 10 June 1969 it was officially announced that the MOL programme had been terminated due to lack of funds and increase in the unmanned programme which became the Big Bird project[12j.

Following the cancellation of the MOL programme the pilots assigned to the project were reassigned (Abrahamson; Finley; Herres; Lawyer; Macleay; Neubeck and Taylor) returned to their parent services on active duty, while Crews joined NASA as a member of the Flight Crew Directorate at Johnson Space Center, Houston. The remaining seven MOL astronauts were selected, on 14 August 1969, to become the seventh group of NASA astronauts. They were Bobko, Crip-pen, Fullerton, Hartsfield, Overmyer, Peterson and Truly, who were subsequently assigned to support duties in the Apollo programme between 1971-1975.

In July 1969 a former X-15 pilot became the first man on the Moon. Neil A. Armstrong became the first moon walker on 20 July 1969; with him on the historic Apollo 11 was former group 3 astronaut designee Michael Collins.

In 1971 Armstrong left NASA to persue a civilian career as a college professor (Collins had, left in December 1969 and by 1971 became Director of the Smithsonian Museum which houses the 1st X-15 in its galleries).

The Shuttlenauts

In 1970 the results obtained in the USAF programmes, the X-15 project and those still being obtained in the lifting body programme, were beginning to reach fruition in the beginnings of the American Space Shuttle programme. It is interesting to note what role in this programme former X-15 and MOL astronauts played.

Two more astronauts had lost their lives after leaving their respective programmes. In September 1970 former MOL pilot James. M. Taylor was killed in the crash of his T-38 jet near Palmdale, California; then on 27 April 1975, John B. McKay died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash of his X-15 on 9 November 1962(13].

The following year three men were assigned to the ALT series of flights in the Space Shuttle programme. Former X-15 pilot Joe Engle (who had lost his place as LMP Apollo 17 due to crew reassignments) and former MOL astronauts Fullerton and Truly joined Fred Haise in qualifying the Shuttle Orbiter for landings on a conventional runway.

In April 1978 it was announced that Robert Crippen would be Pilot for the first manned Shuttle flight in 1980 to be followed by Engle, Truly and Fullerton on later OFT's. Undoubtably the remaining Group 7 astronauts will be assigned to early Shuttle missions.

DoD astronauts in space

So far the American armed forces have no plans to recruit astronauts for their own missions within the Shuttle programme. Originally the USAF was planning to foot the bill for the fifth orbiter but this was prevented by budget cuts in recent years. However, DoD service men and women will no doubt attend DoD experiments on Shuttle flights as Payload Specialists and will receive training at JSC. Further to DoD payloads it has been stated that: "the orbits of DoD satellites, physical characteristics and launch dates may be classified", according to testimony before the House on 29 March 1979. Security for DoD Shuttle missions will be achieved by converting NASA facilities at JSC to a "controlled mode" of operations by which the Pentagon will protect its flight preparations, training and control operations with minimum impact on civil space operations. The Air Force intends to modify JSC Mission Control Center, Shuttle mission simulator and crew activity/planning and computer facilities there"[14].

The men who made it to the Moon. Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and "Buzz" Aldrin stand before the Command Module "Columbia" on the Tenth Anniversary of Apollo 11, the first Moon landing. Picture was taken on 20 July 1979 at the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.

Pioneers of a new breed of astronauts typified by Bob Crippen arid John Young who will ride the Space Shuttle "Columbia" into orbit.

Photos: Stephen Smyth

Eventually the American DoD will operate a semi-permanent manned space station in orbit similar to the current military Salyut programme operated by the Soviet Union and incorporating experience gained from Dyna-Soar, MOL and the Big Bird programmes. Until these stations are available the DoD will have to be content with "passenger" flights aboard NASA space shuttles of short duration. Whatever the outcome of man's military usefulness in space the experience and data gained from the X-15, X-20 and MOL programmes as well as the lifting-body series to the problems of reuseable supply spacecraft and the creation of permanent orbital space bases, will not be forgotten even though some of the astronauts assigned to those programmes have been.

The Astronauts
ABRAHAMSON, James A.
(MOL)

Major General James A. Abrahamson, USAF, was born on 19 May 1933 in Inglewood, California. He is married with two children. He received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master of science in aerospace engineering from the University of Oklahoma. He was selected for the USAF MOL programme on 30 June 1967 (Group 3) and following the programme's cancellation in June 1969 he became a member of the National Aeronautics and Space Council serving on that committee until it was dissolved in 1973. He subsequently returned to active duty in the USAF. He became Inspector General, Air Force Systems Command, Andrews AFB, Maryland and is currently assigned as USAF F-16 Program Director, Air Force Systems Command, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio (following a term as Deputy Director of that programme). He has also recently been assigned as one of the Special Senior Staff Support to Management of the Space Shuttle Transportation System, at the Johnson Space Center[ 15].

ADAMS, Michael James (MOL, X-15)
Major Michael J. Adams, USAF was born on 5 May 1930 in Sacramento, California. He was married with three children. Adams received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from Oklahoma University (1958) and was chosen for the MOL programme on 12 November 1965 (Group 1); the next year he transferred to the X-15 programme and made seven flights between 29 November-1966 and 15 November 1967. He was the 12th and last man to fly the X-15 and attained the astronaut rating on his last flight, which also resulted in his death on 15 November 1967, following disorientation during re-entry causing the craft to spin out of control and crash near the Edwards AFB. He was the only pilot to lose his life whilst flying the X-15.

ARMSTRONG, Neil Alden (X-15, USAF Astro Designee, NASA)
Mr. Neil A. Armstrong, a civilian test pilot, was born on 5 August 1930 in Wapakoneta, Ohio. He is married with two children. After receiving a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University in 1955, he became an Aviator in the US Navy and subsequently received a master of science in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California (1970). After his attendance at Purdue University he joined NACA Lewis Research Center, then NASA High Speed Flight Station at Edwards AFB, on assignment to the Manned Spacecraft Division of the AFFTC, Edwards. Selected for the X-15 programme in 1960 and flew that craft seven times between 30 November 1960 and 26 July 1962 attaining his highest altitude of 207,550ft on his 6th flight on 20 April 1962. Selected as a Pilot Engineer Consultant for the USAF manned space programmes on 15 March 1962, he completed an eight month course, of training at the AF Aerospace Pilots Training School, Edwards AFB, California; before completion, however, on 17 September 1962 he was selected to join the NASA Astronaut group (Group 2) (see [16] for NASA service and current status).

ATWELL, Alfred L. (USAF Astronaut Designee)
Alfred L. Atwell was born in North Garden, Virginia; was a graduate of the University of Virginia and had been an AF officer since 1952. At the time of his appointment as an Astronaut designee on 22 October 1962 he was a 33-year old Captain in the USAF.

BASSETT, Charles A. (Astronaut Designee, NASA)
Major Charles A. Bassett, II, USAF, was born on 30 December 1931 in Dayton, Ohio; he is married and has two children. He had received a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Texas Technological College, before being assigned as an USAF Astronaut Designee on 22 October 1962 (Group 3). On 18 October 1963 he was selected for the third Group of NASA astronauts[17].

BENEFIELD, Tommie D. (Astronaut Designee)
Selected as a Group 3 Astronaut designee on 22 October 1962, and at that time a 33-year old Major in the USAF, Tommie D. Benefield was born in Jefferson, Texas and was a former troop carrier pilot stationed at Sewart AFB, Tenn.

BOBKO, Karol Joseph (MOL, NASA)
Lieutenant Colonel Karol J. Bobko, USAF, was born on 23 December 1937 in New York City, New York state, and is married with two children. He received a bachelor of science degree from the USAF Academy in 1959 and a master of science in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California in 1970. He was selected for the MOL programme on 17 June 1966 (Group 2) and then as a Groifp 7 NASA astronaut on 14 August 1969(18].

BOCK, Jr., Charles C. (Astronaut Designee)
Selected on 20 April 1962 as a USAF Group 2 astronaut designee, Charles Bock was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa. At the time of selection he was a 36-year old Captain, married with 2 children, and was assigned to Andrews AFB, Maryland, HQ, AFSC.

COLLINS, Michael (Astronaut Designee, NASA)
Major General Michael Collins, USAFR, was born on 31 October 1930 in Rome, Italy. He is married and has three children. He received a bachelor of science degree from the US Military Academy in 1952 and was a Group 3 USAF astronaut designee selected 22 October 1962 before transferring to NASA as one of 14 Group 3 astronauts on 18 October 1963(17].

CREWS, Jr., Albert H. (X-20 Dyna-Soar, MOL)
Colonel Albert H. Crews, Jr, USAF, was born on 23 March 1929 in El Dorado, Arkansas, and is married with three children. He received a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Southern Louisiana (1950) and a master of science in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology. When selected as Group 2 USAF Astronaut designee on 20 April 1962 hevas stationed at Edwards AFB and underwent an eight month astronaut training course. He replaced Armstrong as a Croup 1 astronaut designee when Armstrong was selected by NASA in September 1962. Selected to fly the X-20 Dyna-Soar on 20 September 1962, and following that programme's cancellation in 1963, he went to work on the USAF MOL programme. On 12 November 1965 he was to become one of the first group of astronauts assigned to the MOL programme, and after the termination of that programme in June 1969 he transferred to the NASA Flight Crew Operations directorate at Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas. He is currently still employed at JSC.

CRIPPEN, Robert Laurel (MOL, NASA)
Commander Robert L. Crippen, USN, was born on 11 September 1937 in Beaumont, Texas. He is married and has three children. He received a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas in 1960 and was selected for the MOL programme on 17 June 1966 (Group 2). Upon cancellation of the MOL programme he transferred to the NASA astronaut corps as one of 7 Group 7 Ex MOL astronauts on 14 August 1969 (for NASA assignments see [18]).

CROSSFIELD, Albert Scott (X 15)
Scott Crossfield, a civilian, was born on 2 October 1921 in Berkeley, California, and is married with six children. He received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Washington in 1949 and a master of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Washington in 1950. As a test pilot for the prime contractor of the X-15 aircraft, North American Aviation, he was selected for the X-15 programme in 1958 and made 14 flights between 8 June 1959 - 12 June 1960, as well as the initial series of four captive flights, in the spring of 1959. He flew the first glide and the first powered flights in the programme and attained a maximum altitude of 88,116ft on his sixth flight on 11 February 1960. When in 1960 the programme was turned over to NASA Crossfield left the flight programme but continued at North American Aviation as Director of Test and Quality Assurance. He has also directed research and development programmes for Eastern Airlines, and is currently a consultant in Washington, D.C.

DANA, William Harvey (X-15)
Civilian test pilot William H. Dana was born on 3 November 1930 in Pasadena, California, and is married with four children. He received a bachelor of science degree from the US Military Academy in 1952 and a master of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Southern California in 1958. A former Air Force pilot he joined the X-15 programme in 1965 and made a total of 16 flights in the aircraft between 4 November 1965 and 24 October 1968. He made the last X-15 flight and attained his greatest altitude on his sixth flight on 1 November 1966, when he reached 306,900 ft and attained the astronaut title. Following the completion of the programme in 1968 Dana became a research pilot at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California. He became assigned to the lifting body programme and made his first flight on 25 April 1969 in the unpowered HL-10 lifting body. He continued in the lifting body programme as a research pilot until 1975 when X-24B project was completed. He is currently still assigned to the Flight Research Center as a research pilot.

ENGLE, Joseph Henry (USAF Astro Designee; X-15 NASA)
Colonel Joe H. Engle, USAF was born on 26 August 1934,in Abelene, Kansas, and is married with two children. He received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Kansas in 1955. He was selected as Group 3 astronaut designee for the USAF programme on 22 October 1962. Chosen for the X-15 programme in June 1963 he made 16 flights between 10 July 1963 and 14 October 1965, attaining his greatest altitude of 280,600 ft on his 13th flight on 29 June 1965 attaining astronaut rating. He was selected for the NASA astronaut programme ori 4 April 1966, as one of 19 pilot astronauts[19].

FINLEY, John Lawrence (MOL)
Captain John L. Finley USN was born on 22 December 1935 in Winchester, Massachusetts and is married with two children. He received a bachelor of science degree from the US Naval Academy in 1957 and was selected for the MOL programme on 12 November 1965 (Group 1). When the programme was terminated in June 1969 Finley returned to operational flying duty with the Navy. Some of his recent assignments have been with the Navy Department's Bureau of Personnel, Washington, DC (1975); Commander of an attack carrier Air Wing 5, FPO San Francisco (1976); Commanding Officer, Naval Schools Command, San Francisco, California (1977), and with the USS Kawishiwi, FPO San Francisco (1978).

FULLERTON, Charles Gordon (MOL, NASA)
Lieutenant Colonel Charles G. Fullerton, USAF was born on 11 October 1936 in Rochester, New York, and is married with two children. He received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1957 and a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from CalTec in 1958. On 17 June 1966 he was selected for the MOL programme (Group 2). He transferred to NASA on 14 August 1969 when the MOL programme was cancelled[18].

GARLAND, Neil R. (USAF Astro Designee)
Born in Hicksville, New York and selected for the USAF Astronaut Training programme on 22 October 1962 at the age of 34. He was at the time Chief of the Experimental Test Pilot Branch, Edwards AFB.

GIVENS, Jr., Edward Galen (USAF Astro Designee, NASA) Born on 5 January 1930 in Quanah, Texas, Major Edward G. Givens, Jr., USAF, married with two children, received a bachelor of science degree from the US Naval Academy in 1952 and was selected for the USAF astronaut training course on 22 October 1962 (Group 3). In 1966 on 4 April, he was appointed to the NASA astronaut corps[19].

GORDON, Henry C. (USAF Astro Designee, X-20 Dyna-Soar)
Colonel Henry C. Gordon, USAF (Retd), was born on 23 December 1925 in Valparaiso, Indiana and is married with four children. He received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University in 1950 and was one of six Pilot Engineering Consultants assigned to the USAF astronaut training programme on 15 March 1962. He was selected for the Dyna-Soar programme on 20 September 1962 and following the cancellation of the programme in 1963 remained on active duty with the Air Force until his retirement in 1975. His last assignment was at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

HARTSFIELD, Jr., Henry Warren (MOL; NASA)
Colonel Henry W. Hartsfield, Jr., USAF (Retd) was born on 21 November 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama and is married with two children. He received a bachelor of science degree in physics from Auburn University in 1954 and in 1971 a master of science degree in engineering science from the University of Tennessee. He was selected for the MOL programme on 17 June 1966 and following cancellation of that programme transferred to the NASA astronaut group on 14 August 1969 (Group 7)[18].

HERRES, Robert Tralles (MOL)
Brigadier General Robert Tralles Herres, USAF was born in Denver, Colorado on 1 December 1932 and is married with three children. He received a bachelor of science degree from the US Naval Academy in 1953, a master of science degree in electrical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and a master of science degree in public administration from George Washington University. He was selected for the MOL programme as one of the last group of pilots so assigned on 30 June 1967 (Group 3) and when the programme was terminated two years later he remained on active duty with the Air Force, serving on various assignments and becoming Assistant Chief of Staff, Communications and Computer Resources, Air Force Headquarters, Washington, DQ20]. He is currently Director of C3 in the office of the AF deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and readiness.

HOOVER, Lloyd N. (USAF Astro Designee)
Named on 20 April 1962 as one of the second group of pilots assigned to the USAF astronaut training course at Edwards AFB, he was at the time of his selection a 37 year old Major in the USAF and married with two children. Born in Springfield, Mass., he had attended the Empire Test Pilot School, Farnborough, England in 1960, and at the time of his selection to the training course at Edwards, Hoover was stationed at HQ Weapons System Test Division, Naval Air Training Center, Patuxent River, MD.

KINCHELOE, Iven C. (X 15)
Captain Iven C. Kincheloe, USAF, one of America's greatest test pilots was a former Bell X-2 pilot before being assigned to the X-15 programme as an Air Force experimental test pilot in 1957. A married man, Kincheloe had attained the World altitude height record of 126,200 ft in the X-2 aircraft. Unhappily, in June 1958 he was killed when the F-104 he was flying suffered a flame-out shortly after take off; he ejected but was too low. In memory of this fine pilot a Society of Experimental Test Pilot's (STEP) Award was established.

KNIGHT, William J. (USAF Astro Designee; X-20 Dyna Soar; X-15)
Colonel William "Pete" J. Knight, USAF, was born on 18 November 1929 in Noblesville, Indiana, and is married with two children. He received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1958, and was selected for the USAF astronaut training programme on 15 March 1962 (Group 1). On 20 September 1962 he was named as one of six pilots assigned to the X-20 programme. Following the cancellation of the programme in 1963 he continued his studies at the Aerospace Research Pilots School and following graduation in 1964 was assigned to the X-15 programme making a total of 16 flights between 30 September 1965 and 13 September 1968, attaining his greatest altitude during his 13th flight on 17 October 1967; he reached a height of 280,500 ft and thus gained the Astronaut title. He was also able to record the fastest speed during the X-15 programme on 3 October 1967 when in the second aircraft he reached Mach 6.70 (4520 mph or 7,270 km/h). He returned to active flight duty with the Air Force when the programme terminated in December 1968. His current assignment is as System Program Director, Fighter Attack Systems Program Office, Air Force Systems Command, Wright Pat-terson Air Force Base, Ohio.

KNOLLE, Byron F. (USAF Astronaut Designee)
Named as Astronaut Designee on 20 April 1962 (Group 2), Byron F. Knolle at that time was a 38 year old Major in the USAF, married with two children. Born in Houston, Texas, .he was assigned to the USAF HQ Space Systems Division in Los Angeles, California.

LAWRENCE, Jr., Robert Henry (MOL)
Major Robert H. Lawrence, Jr., USAF, was born on 2 October 1935 in Chicago, Illinois, and was married with one child. He received a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Bradley University in 1956 and a doctorate in nuclear chemistry from Ohio State University in 1965. He was selected for the MOL programme on 30 June 1967 (Group 3). He was the first Black astronaut selected for training but tragically, on 8 December 1967, lost his life in the crash of an F-104 at Edwards AF Base, California. Had he lived he would have probably been transferred from the MOL programme to a NASA assignment in August 1969 when the former was cancelled. He would today have been preparing for his first spaceflight aboard the Space Shuttle.

LAWYER, Richard E. (MOL)
Colonel Richard E. Lawyer, USAF, was born on 8 November 1932 in Los Angeles, California; he is married with three children. He received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of California in 1955 and was chosen for the MOL programme on 12 November 1965 (Group 1). Following the cancellation of the MOL programme he remained with the Air Force and returned to active flight duty. He is currently Deputy Commander, Test Evaluation Directorate, Air Weapons Center, Tyndall AF Base, Florida.

MACLEAY, Lachlan (MOL)
Colonel Lachlan Macleay, USAF (Retd), was born on 13 June 1931 in St Louis, Missouri, and is married with three children. He received a bachelor of science degree from the US Naval Academy in 1954. He was selected for the MOL programme on 12 November 1965 (Group 1) and following the cancellation of the programme in June 1969, he returned to flight duty with the Air Force. He has held varous posts since 1969 and some of his most recent assignments in the Air Force have been at the War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama (1975); Aerospace Systems Division, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio (1976); Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff/Requirements, Headquarters TAG, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia (1977). He retired from the Air Force on 1 May 1978.

McINTOSH, Robert H. (USAF Astro Designee)
Named an Astronaut Designee on 20 April 1962 (Group 2) Robert H. Mclntosh at that time was a 35 year old Captain in the Air Force, married with three children. He was stationed at Edwards AFB, California, and had just completed the experimental flight test course, a prerequisite for the astronautics course.

McKAY, John B. (X-15)
Civilian Test Pilot John B. McKay was born on 8 December 1922 in Portsmouth, Virginia. He was married and had eight children. He flew as a Navy pilot in the Pacific theater in World War 2 and received a bachelor of science degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1950. In February 1951 he joined NACA as an aeronautical research engineer and pilot, and in 1960 joined the X-15 programme under NASA auspices at the Flight Research Center Edwards AFB. He made a total of 29 flights in the X-15 between 28 October 1960 and 8 September 1966, achieving his greatest altitude on 28 September 1965 during his 23rd flight at 295,600ft (90.1 km), thus attaining the Astronaut title. On 9 NoVember 1962, during an emergency landing of the second X-15 craft, McKay sustained serious injury to his back. Although he recovered sufficiently to continue flying, his injuries forced him to retire from the programme in 1966. These injuries were to continue to trouble him until his death on 27 April 1975, as a result of complications stemming from the X-15 crash.

NEUBECK, Francis Gregory
(Astro Designee, MOL)
Colonel Francis G. Neubeck, USAF was born on 11 April 1932 in Washington, DC, and is married with one child. He received a bachelor of science degree from the US Naval Academy in 1955, and was selected for the USAF astronautics course on 22 October 1962 (Group 3). He was selected for the MOL programme on 12 November 1965 (Group 1), and following its cancellation in June 1969 he returned to active flight duty in the AF. He is currently Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff/Requirements, Headquarters TAG, Langley AFB, Virginia.

OVERMYER, Robert Franklyn (MOL, NASA)
Lieutenant Colonel Robert F. Overmyer, USMC was born on 14 July 1936 in Lorain, Ohio, and is married with three children. He received a bachelor of science degree in Physics from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1958 and a master of science degree in aeronautics at the US Naval Postgraduate Graduate School in 1964. He was selected for the MOL programme on 17 June 1966 (Group 2) before transferring to NASA on 14 August 1969 (Group 7). For subsequent NASA service see [18].

PETERSEN, Forrest Silas (X-15)
Vice-Admiral Forrest S. Petersen, USN, was born on 16 May 1922'in Holdrige, Nebraska and is married with three children. He joined the US Navy as an ensign on 7 June 1944 following a shortened course of instruction due to World War 2 at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He completed destroyer duty in the Pacific theatre of WW2 in the last year of the war. He was assigned to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida in January 1946 and received his wings on 14 June 1947. During his various assignments in the Navy in the years up to 1958 he furthered his educational attainments. He received a bachelor of science degree from the US Naval Academy in 1944, a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering from the US Naval Postgraduate School in 1952, and a master of science degree in engineering from Princeton University in 1953. In August 1958 he was assigned to the X-15 programme and between 23 September 1960 and 10 January 1962 he made five flights in that programme attaining his greatest altitude of 101,800 ft (31 km) during his fourth flight on 28 September 1961. Following his last flight in January 1962 he was detached from the programme to return to duties in the Navy. He has held numerous positions since leaving the X-15 programme in 1962 and is currently Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, Department of the Navy, Washington, DC.

PETERSON, Donald Herod (MOL, NASA)
Colonel Donald H. Peterson, USAF was born on 22 October 1933 in Winona, Mississippi and is married with three children. He received a bachelor of science degree from the US Military Academy in 1955 and a master of science degree in nuclear engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1962. He was selected for the MOL programme on 17 June 1967 (Group 3) and transferred to the NASA Astronaut office, JSC, Houston, Texas on 14 August 1969 (Group 7)[18].

ROGERS, Russell L. (USAF Astro Designee, X-20 Dyna-Soar)
Major Russell L. Rogers, USAF was born on 12 April 1926 in Lawrence, Kansas; he was married with four children. After gaining a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Colorado in 1958 he was selected for the USAF astronautics course on 15 March 1962 while assigned to the Air Force Test Center as an experimental flight test pilot. He was designated as a Pilot Engineer Consultant. He was assigned to the Dyna-Soar programme on 20 September 1962 and following the cancellation of that programme in 1963 he returned to active flight duty in the Air Force. He died in an F-105 explosion near Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa.

ROMAN, James A. (Astro Designee)
Named as a Group 3 USAF Astronaut Designee on 22 October 1962 Jaines A. Roman was a Captain in the USAF, 35 years old at the time of selection. He was born in Paris, France and lived in Europe for the first 18 years of his life. He joined the USAF in 1956 and was a Medical Doctor.

RUSHWORTH, Robert A. (X 15)
Major General Robert A. Rushworth, USAF was born on 9 October 1924 in Madison, Maine, and is married with one child. He received a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Maine in 1951, a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1954, and was selected to fly the X-15 aircraft in 1958. He made the greatest number of flights - 34 - in the X-15 programme between 4 November 1960 and 1 July 1966. He attained his greatest altitude during his 14th flight on 27 June 1963 at 285,000ft (86.9km). He left the X-15 programme in 1966 to become Commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, and was subsequently assigned to Kirtland Air Force Base as Commander of the Air Force Test and Evaluation Center. He is currently Vice-Commander, Aeronautical Systems Division, Air Force Systems Command, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

SMITH, Robert W. (Astro Designee)
Robert W. Smith was a Group 2 Astronautics course designer selected on 20 April 1962. At the time of his selection he was a 34 year old Captain in the USAF; born in Washington, he is married with two children. Prior to selection, he was stationed at Vandenberg AFB, California with the 6595th Aer-ospace Test Wing.

SORLIE, Donald M. (Astro Designee)
Donald M. Sorlie was a Group 2 Astronautics course designee selected on 20 April 1962. He is married with five children. Born in Omaha, Nebraska, he was a USAF Major at the time of his selection to the Aerospace course and stationed at Aeronautical Systems Division HQ, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

TAYLOR, James M. (MOL)
Lieutenant Colonel James M. Taylor, USAF was born on 27 November 1930, in stamps, Arkansas. He was married with three children. He received associate of arts degree at Southern State University of Michigan in 1959 and was selected for the MOL Programme on 12 November 1965 (Group 1) and when that programme was cancelled in June 1969 he returned to flight duty with the Air Force. He died in September 1970 in the crash of a T-38 Jet near Palmdale, California. At the time of his death Taylor was an Instructor at the Test Pilot School, Edwards AFB, California.

THOMPSON, Milton O. (Astro Designee, X-20 Dyna-Soar, X-15)
Civilian test pilot Milton O. Thompson was born on 4 May 1926 in Crookston, Minnesota and is married with five children. He flew as Navy pilot during World War 2 in the Pacific theatre, received a bachelor of science degree in engineering from the University of Washington in 1953 and was .selected for the USAF astronautics course on 15 March 1962 (Group 1) as a Pilot Engineering Consultant. He was named as one of six pilots for the X-20 programme on 20 September 1962, the only civilian selected for the programme. After cancellation of the programme in 1963 he transferred to the lifting body research programme as NASA's chief project pilot and made the first five free flights in the M2 in 1963, becoming the first man to fly a lifting body. On 13 June 1963 he was assigned to the X-15 programme and between 29 October 1963 and 25 August 1965 made 14 flights in the aircraft reaching his greatest altitude of 214,100 ft (65.3 km) on his last flight. In the fall of 1966 after leaving the X-15 programme to return to the lifting body programme, Thompson became Director of Research Projects at NASA Dryden Flight Center, Edwards, California. He is currently Chief Engineer there.

TRULY, Richard Harrison (MOL, NASA)
Commander Richard H. Truly, USN, born on 12 November 1937 in Fayette, Mississippi, is married with three children. He received a bachelor of aeronautical engineering degree from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1959 and was selected for MOL on 12 November 1965 (Group 1). Following cancellation of the programme he transferred to NASA on 14 August 1969 (Group 7)[18].

TWINTING, William T. (USAF Astro Designee)
Captain William T. Twinting was a Group 2 Astronautics course candidate selected on 20 April 1962. Born in Berwyn, Illinois, he is married with two children. At the time of his selection he was a 34 year old Captain in the Air Force stationed at HQ ADC, Ent AFB, California.

UHALT, Alfred H. (USAF Astro Designee)
Alfred H. Uhalt was a Group 3 Astronautics course candidate selected on 23 October 1962. Born in New Orleans, he graduated as a test pilot in 1958. At the time of his selection he was a 31 year old Captain in the USAF.

WALKER, Joseph Albert (X 15)
Joseph A. Walker, a civilian test pilot was born on 20 February 1921 in Washington, Pennsylvania and was married with four children. He received a bachelor of arts degree in physics from Washington and Jefferson College in 1942 and flew as an Air Force pilot during the Second World War. Selected for the X-15 programme in 1958, he flew the aircraft from 25 March 1960 to 22 August 1963. During his total of 25 flights he attained the greatest altitude in the X-15 programme on his last flight on 22 August 1963 when he reached 354,200ft or 108 km, thus achieving the Astronaut rating. After leaving the X-15 programme in 1963 he became a Chief test pilot for NASA at Edwards AFB. He was killed on 8 June 1966 in the mid-air collision between the F-104 he was piloting and an XB-70. At the time of his death he was also engaged in test-flying the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle.

WHITE, Robert Michael (X 15)
Major General Robert M. White, USAF was born on 6 July 1924 in New York City, New York. He is married with four children. He received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from New York University in 1951 and a master of business administration from the George Washington University in 1966. Selected for the X-15 programme in 1958 when he replaced the original USAF pilot for the X-15 programme, Ivan Klincheloe, who had been killed in an air crash, he flew the X-15 aircraft from 13 April 1960 to 14 December 1962 for a total of 16 flights. He attained his greatest altitude on his 15th flight on 17 July 1962 when he attained the greatest height in the X-15 programme by flying to 314,750 ft (95.9 km) thus attaining the Astronaut title. He left the X-15 programme following his flight in December 1962 and returned to flying duties in the Air Force. He is currently Chief of Staff, 4th Allied Tactical Air Force, Ramstein Air Base, West Germany.

WOOD, James W. (USAF Astro Designee, X-20 Dyna-Soar)
Colonel James W. Wood, USAF (Retd) was born on 9 August 1924 in Paragould, Arkansas, and is married with three children. He received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1956 and was an experimental flight test pilot at the Air Force Test Center when selected for the USAF Astronautics course on 15 March 1962 (Group 1). He was selected for the X-20 Dyna-Soar programme on 20 September 1962 and when the programme was cancelled in 1963 he returned to the Air Force on active flight duty. He held several positions until his retirement in 1975. His last appointment was as Commander, Test Operations, Edward AFB, California.


Test pilot Milton Thompson checks out instruments of the M2-F2 powerless lifting body vehicle before its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
Acknowledgements The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of Marcia S. Smith, Analyst in Science and Technology, Science Policy Research Division, Library of Congress, Washington DC; NASA Dryden Flight Research Center and NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC. The following publications were consulted: Spaceflight; Flight International; Astronauts and Cosmonauts 1975, 1976, 1977 & 1978; Air Force/Space Digest and The Washington Post.

References
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2. Hallion, Richard, "X-15 Highest and Fastest of Them All", Flight International, 23 December 1978; and Peebles, Curtis, "X-15 First Wings into Space, Spaceflight, 19, 6, 1977, pp. 228-232.
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