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NB-52B Stratofortress carries X-38 Crew Return Vehicle, June 29, 2001

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 with X-38 V-131R on the flightline at Edwards AFB Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 with X-38 V-131R on the flightline.

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 with X-38 V-131R on the flightline at Edwards AFB The ground crew works to prepare the X-38 V-131R for the seventh test drop of the program.

X-38 V-131R under the wing of Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 on the flightline at Edwards AFB There had been a problem with some of the radio gear, so it was being switched out. 

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 with X-38 V-131R on the flightline at Edwards AFB Gordon Fullerton was walking around the NB-52B doing the pilot's pre-flight check.  Fullerton was one of the first Space Shuttle test pilots. Now he flies NASA's 747 shuttle carrier and the NB-52B. He stood out from the ground crew in his tan coveralls..

X-38 V-131R under the wing of Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 on the flightline at Edwards AFB The man in the tan coveralls is Gordon Fullerton, the pilot of the NB-52B.

X-38 V-131R under the wing of Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 on the flightline at Edwards AFB The ground crew wraps up the launch preparations for the X-38 V-131R.

Mission marks on the side of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 Some of the mission symbols on the side of the fuselage of the NB-52B have been revised.  The stylized flying horse symbols for the Pegasus satellite launches have been replaced with sihouettes of the actual rocket booster.

X-38 V-131R under the wing of Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 on the flightline at Edwards AFB X-38 V-131R is fully prepared for launch.

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 with X-38 V-131R on the flightline at Edwards AFB The ground crew fires up the ground power unit to start the engines of the NB-52B.

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 with X-38 V-131R on the flightline at Edwards AFB Gordon Fullerton prepares to taxi the NB-52B to runway 22.

NASA Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18B Hornets, N852NA and N846NA take off from runway 22 at Edwards AFB NASA Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18B Hornet chase planes, N852NA and N846NA take off from runway 22 at Edwards AFB.

NASA Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18B Hornet chase plane at Edwards AFB The Hornet chase planes circled and lined up with the runway to catch the NB-52B as it took off.  Both Hornets were on our side of the runway.

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 takes off with X-38 V-131R At 9:20, the Stratofortress belched a cloud of unburned hydrocarbons from its eight J57 turbojet engines and started rolling toward us.

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 takes off with X-38 V-131R The nose gear of the NB-52B has just lifted off the ground.

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 takes off with X-38 V-131R The NB-52B lifted off the ground just as it came past us.  At the same time, one Hornet passed directly over us and the other passed just behind us, just a few hundred feet off the ground.

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 takes off with X-38 V-131R Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 takes off with X-38 V-131R.

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 takes off with X-38 V-131R Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 departs to the west with X-38 V-131R.

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 takes off with X-38 V-131R The trio of planes turn to the north and climb to the launch altitude of 37,500 feet.  There would be about an hour before the launch of the X-38. We returned to NASA Dryden to watch the proceedings on closed circuit TV.

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 flies over Edwards AFB with X-38 V-131R About five minutes before the drop they turned on a smoke generator on the left inboard engine nacelle of the NB-52B. I stepped outside and could see the smoke trail approaching from the east.  The temperature outside was getting a bit hot.

I tracked the NB-52B and its Hornet chase planes as it crossed over the Air Force Base.  I watched carefully to see the X-38 fall away from the Stratofortress and deploy its parafoil.  The parafoil is larger in area than the wing of a 747.

The smoke trail curved to the right and then stopped.  I searched the sky for the X-38 and its huge parafoil, but I couldn't find it.

I went back inside and was informed that "they called an abort at about T-minus nothing."  They had suffered a failure of the Flight Termination System.  It would take a half hour to cool down before they could attempt the launch again.  I went outside again to watch for the return of the Stratofortress. 

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, 52-0008 flies over Edwards AFB with X-38 V-131R The NB-52B flies over Edwards AFB with X-38 V-131R following the launch abort. The small white object at the right is a weather balloon that was released about an hour earlier.

A short while later I learned that they had called an abort for the day.  The launch systems were going to take so long to reset that the Hornets wouldn't have enough fuel to follow the X-38 after launch.

Link to the NASA Dryden press release about the X-38 launch abort on June 29.


More NB-52B Displays

Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress dislays Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership.


Link to the NASA Dryden press release about the X-38 parachute test on November 2.

Link to the NASA Dryden X-38 Space Station Crew Return Vehicle photo gallery.

Link to the NASA Dryden X-38 Crew Return Vehicle Project Page.

Link to the NASA Dryden X-38 Crew Return Vehicle Fact Sheet.

Link to the NASA Dryden X-38 Actuator Control Test Project Page.

Link to the NASA Human Spaceflight X-38 Crew Return Vehicle page.


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eBook edition of Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

My book Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership is now available as an eBook for just $10.99, a considerably reduced price compared to the print edition.

It has been asserted that the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, carrying Air Force serial 52-0008, can lay claim to being the airplane that has seen and participated in more history than any other single airplane. For forty-five years, the NB-52B was a fixture at Edwards Air Force Base. While the NB-52B is most famous for launching the three North American X-15 rocket planes, it continued to serve in the role of launch platform for a multitude of programs until its final mission, launching the Mach-10 X-43A Hyper-X, on November 16, 2004. It was the oldest flying B-52 by nearly ten years.

The eBook edition is profusely illustrated with vintage photographs and diagrams and has more pictures than the print edition. It can be dowloaded directly from Lulu.com. It will soon be available from Apple iBookstore, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership
(eBook)

$10.99

Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

It has been asserted that the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, carrying Air Force serial 52-0008, can lay claim to being the airplane that has seen and participated in more history than any other single airplane. For forty-five years, the NB-52B was a fixture at Edwards Air Force Base. While the NB-52B is most famous for launching the three North American X-15 rocket planes, it continued to serve in the role of launch platform for a multitude of programs until its final mission on November 16, 2004. It was the oldest flying B-52 by nearly ten years.
The NB-52B launched the three X-15 hypersonic rocket planes.
It launched the Northrop HL-10, Northrop M2-F2/F3, Martin Marietta X-24A and Martin Marietta X-24B lifting bodies.
It simulated the steep, power off approach to landing used by the Space Shuttles.
It assisted in the collection of data about wake turbulence from large aircraft.
It served as an air-to-air gunnery target.
It launched 3/8-scale F-15 Remotely Piloted Research Vehicles (RPRV) and Spin Research Vehicles (SRV).
It launched a Ryan Firebee II drone and the Ryan Firebee based Drones for Aeroelastic Structures Testing (DAST).
It launched the Highly Maneuverable Aircraft Technology (HiMAT) RPRVs.
It dropped the 48,000-pound Space Shuttle Reusable Booster Drop Test Vehicle (SRB/DTV).
It released a simulated F-111 crew module from its bomb bay to evaluate new parachute recovery systems.
It was the first airplane to launch a satellite into orbit on the Orbital Sciences Pegasus booster.
It tested the drag chute used to decelerate space shuttle orbiters.
It tested pollution reducing fuel additives with a pair of jet engines mounted under its bomb bay.
It launched the X-38 Space Station Crew Return Vehicles.
It launched the X-43A Hyper-X Supersonic Combustion Ramjets.

The book is 200 pages long. It contains 246 color photographs, 89 black and white photographs, and 2 other illustrations.

You can preview the first several pages of the book.

Books are printed on demand by Lulu.com. When you order one, it is placed in your Lulu.com shopping cart. Lulu.com prints, packages, and ships the book direct to you.

Softcover


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Hardcover


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Put a copy of the hardcover edition of Balls Eight: History of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership in your Lulu.com shopping cart for $79.95.


Painting Guide for the Boeing Stratofortress Motherships

Painting Guide for the Boeing Stratofortress Motherships

Painting Guide for the Boeing Stratofortress Motherships

Revell has re-released Monogram's 1/72-scale Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress with X-15A-2 kit. You need this book to help you establish the appropriate paint scheme for any particular NB-52B mission that you want to model.

The book is 96 pages long.

You can preview the first several pages of the book.

Books are printed on demand by Lulu.com. When you order one, it is placed in your Lulu.com shopping cart. Lulu.com prints, packages, and ships the book direct to you.


Buy Painting Guide for the Boeing Stratofortress Motherships on Lulu.
Put a copy of the softcover edition of Painting Guide for the Boeing Stratofortress Motherships in your Lulu.com shopping cart for $44.95.


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Balls Eight: Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

2018 calendar

You can buy a 2018 calendar featuring photographs of the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership that launched the X-15s in the 1960s and continued launching research vehicles until 2004.

Lockett Books Calendar Catalog: Balls Eight: Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

Lockett Books Calendar Catalog: Balls Eight: Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership

It has been asserted that the Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress, carrying Air Force serial 52-0008, can lay claim to being the airplane that has seen and participated in more history than any other single airplane. This calendar features a dozen pictures of the NB-52B carrying some of the research vehicles that it launched over the years. Photo sources: Air Force, NASA, Richard Lockett, Brian Lockett:

North American X-15-1, 1960
North American X-15-3, 1963
North American X-15A-2, 1967
Northrop HL-10, 1969
Martin-Mariettta X-24A, 1970
Northrop M2-F3, 1972
Martin-Mariettta X-24B, 1973
Orbital Sciences Pegasus, 1989
Supersonic Supercruise, 1995
X-38 V-131R, 2000
X-43A Hyper-X, 2004

Buy my Balls Eight: Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership 2018 calendar at Lulu! Put a copy of the Balls Eight: Boeing NB-52B Stratofortress Mothership: 2018 calendar in your Lulu.com shopping cart for $14.95.

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Books about Edwards Air Force Base and the X-planes available from

The X-Planes: X-1 to X-45: 3rd Edition by Jay Miller The X-Planes: X-1 to X-45: 3rd Edition by Jay Miller

Test Colors: The Aircraft of Muroc Army Airfield and Edwards Air Force Base by Rene Francillon Test Colors: The Aircraft of Muroc Army Airfield and Edwards Air Force Base by Rene Francillon

X-Planes at Edwards by Steve Pace X-Planes at Edwards (Enthusiast Color Series) by Steve Pace

Edwards Air Force Base : Open House at the USAF Flight Test Center 1957-1966 by Robert D. Archer Edwards Air Force Base : Open House at the USAF Flight Test Center 1957-1966 : A Photo Chronicle of Aircraft Displayed (Schiffer Military History) by Robert D. Archer


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