AVIATION: Go! Go!

In the cold, rarefied upper atmosphere nine miles above California's Mojave Desert, the B-52 mother ship let go of the stub-winged X-15 research plane and swung away. In his cramped cockpit, greying Test Pilot Joseph Walker, 38, flicked a series of switches, and the black needle-nosed X-15's eight rocket chambers roared into fiery life. On a high-altitude research mission for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Walker was not supposed to be trying for a speed record. But he pushed his plane as fast as skill could push it. "Go!Go!" he growled.

Go...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!