Science: Engineer's Problem

According to skyside gossip, two new experimental rocket planes are being built for the Air Force. One is the Bell X2, an improvement on the X1, in which Test Pilot Chuck Yeager first flew faster than sound (TIME, April 18, 1949). The X2, rumored for a long time, may be ready for testing this year. Current guesses give it a top speed of 2,500 m.p.h., at an altitude of 200,000 ft. (38 miles). Even more radical is the X3, which Douglas is said to be developing. Powered with a ramjet and a rocket motor...

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