X-20 Dyna-Soar

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[top] General Description

The Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar ("Dynamic Soarer") was a United States Air Force (USAF) program to develop a spaceplane that could be used for a variety of military missions, including reconnaissance, bombing, space rescue, satellite maintenance, and sabotage of enemy satellites. The program ran from October 1957 to December 1963. The HL-10 and later HL-20 were based on the same concept.

The Dyna-Soar a far more advanced concept than other human spaceflight missions of the period. The aircraft was more like the much later Space Shuttle. It was to travel to distant targets at the speed of an intercontinental ballistic missile, reach earth orbit, and then glide to earth like an aircraft under control of a pilot, and land at an airfield, rather than simply falling to earth and landing with a parachute.

In October 1957, the USAF issued a proposal for a "Hypersonic Glide Rocket Weapon System" (Weapons System 464L): Dyna Soar. The new aircraft was expected to carry out all the bombing and reconnaissance tasks intended for the separate studies, and act as successor to the X-15 research program. Of the original nine contenders for the job, the field narrowed to proposals from Bell and Boeing. Even though Bell had six years' worth of design studies, the contract was awarded to Boeing in June 1959 (by which time their original design had changed markedly and now closely resembled what Bell had submitted).

In April 1960, seven astronauts were chosen for the Dyna-Soar program:

  • Neil Armstrong (1930-2013) (NASA) 1960–1962
  • Bill Dana (1930- )(NASA) 1960–1962
  • Henry C. Gordon (1925-1996) (Air Force) 1960–1963
  • Pete Knight (1929-2004) (Air Force) 1960–1963
  • Russell L. Rogers (1928-1967) (Air Force) 1960–1963
  • Milt Thompson (1926-1993) (NASA) 1960–1963
  • James W. Wood (1924-1990) (Air Force) 1960–1963

[top] Photos

Bell Model #5 - 1958


Martin-Bell Dyna Soar I in the Unitary - 1959


Other Testing - 1959-1960


Full-Scale Tunnel - 1960


Model in the Tow Tank - 1960-61


Other Testing - 1960


Other Testing 1961-1962

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