Space: Over the Top

Fifty miles above the earth at more than 3,500 m.p.h., America's needle-nosed X-15 barely ruffles the underskirts of space. U.S. and Soviet astronauts have ventured far higher, faster and for longer flights. But for Air Force Major Michael J. Adams, 37, riding the stub-winged X-15 rocket ship on its wild ten-minute flights beyond the atmosphere and back presented a greater challenge. He too had been chosen as an astronaut. Repeated slippage of the Manned Orbit ing Laboratory program left him impatient to get off the ground, and he asked to fly the...

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