On This Day In Space: Aug. 16, 1963: Wingless M2-F1 completes 1st glide flight (Image Credit: Space.com)
On Aug. 16, 1963, NASA’s M2-F1 aircraft prototype made its first glide flight.
This wingless aircraft kind of looked like a flying bathtub. NASA made it to test a new concept called the lifting body, which was an unpowered glider that provided an alternative way to return piloted spacecraft to Earth. Instead of pummeling out of the sky in a ballistic reentry, the lifting body landed sort of like an airplane.
For its first test flight, the M2-F1 was towed 12,000 feet into the air by a C-47 Skytrain and then released.
Test pilot Milt Thompson was in the cockpit, and he brought the glider in for a smooth landing in California after a two-minute descent.
On This Day in Space Archive!
Follow us @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.