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15 Craziest Air & Spacecraft

X-15 Rocket Plane

In the 60s, the North American X-15 Rocket Plane was hot stuff. It set records for speed and altitude. 13 of the pilots who flew this small plane went so height they earned their astronaut wings. It was fast, too. The plane itself maxed out at a speed of 4,520 miles an hour. That’s about ten times faster than a regular plane, and almost twice as fast as the average bullet. That’s pretty crazy stuff!

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XCOR Lynx

The XCOR Lynx never launched, but it was revolutionary in its time. It began development in 2003 and intended to take a pilot and a passenger into the edge of space for a meager $150,000. Sadly, investors backed out. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2017. It never took any passengers to space.

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SpaceX Dragon

In 2012, the small winged capsule hanging onto the space station here made history. It was the first time a commercial company was able to dock with the International Space Station. The company joined Russia, China, and the U.S. as a major entity in space. In SpaceX’s weird fashion, the capsule was named after the song “Puff, the Magic Dragon.”

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Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk

The Nighthawk was a secret for years. It flew only on dark, moonless nights to avoid being seen. It was invisible to radar, after all, so why not make it invisible to the naked eye as well? It was a military bomber that took out over 1,600 targets and was only seen once. It was so effective that it would warn people before it struck by dropping leaflets. Only one was lost in combat.

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C-17

The C-17 is primarily a military plane. Its main purpose? Carrying cargo. It does this weird thing where the cockpit opens up, allowing really big things to be flown around with ease. In addition to traditional cargo, it can carry disassembled planes, tanks, or over 100 paratroopers. It even flew the orca whale that starred in Free Willy!

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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo

SpaceShipTwo is the small silver plane being carried by the weird white one here. It was another plane designed for space tourism with tickets costing as much as a house: $250,000. In 2014, there was an accident, killing one pilot and injuring another. The Virgin Galactic looked into the problem, fixed it, and is continuing forward with its plan to put more people in space.

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SpaceX Falcon Heavy

In February 2018, the Falcon Heavy made history. The reusable rocket was launched on a path to send it past Mars. It’s designed to take payloads from our planet to the dusty red one. It was named after the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars and carried the SpaceX CEO’s car into space while blaring David Bowie’s hit song “Space Oddity.” Apparently, you’ve got to have a little fun if you want to get to Mars.

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SNC Dream Chaser

The Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser is designed to go from earth to the International Space Station. It can both carry people and cargo. The reusable spaceplane set up to make six trips to the great beyond before 2024.

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Stratolaunch

The Stratolaunch is one crazy-looking plane. After all, it has three wings and two main bodies! It also has the longest wingspan of any plane in existence: 385 feet. That’s larger than a football field! It requires a runway over two-miles long, and it can carry rockets into the edge of space. It’s so overpowered, many people think the Department of Defense has secret plans for it...

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IXS Enterprise

The IXS Enterprise looks (and sounds) like something straight out of Star Trek. It’s supposed to act like one, too. That funky shape it has was designed to try and get humans moving faster than the speed of light. It’s currently our best bet at traveling at “warp speed”, so let’s hope it goes well!

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NASA AD-1

No, this picture wasn’t taken at a weird angle. This plane was built with pivoting wings just to see if it could be flown. They stuck a pilot in it just to see what would happen. It was successful, but we wouldn’t want to be the person who tested things out!

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Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

Yes, the X-Men flew a jet that was very closely modeled after a real plane: the Blackbird. Although it’s now retired, the Blackbird is the fastest non-rocket plane in existence, topping out at a speed of 2,193 miles per hour. It’s hard to comprehend traveling that fast!

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NASA Space Launch System

With so many private companies trying to get people to Mars, what is NASA doing? It’s building the Space Launch System! This spacecraft will replace the black-and-white space shuttle we’ve been using. For now, it’s only scheduled for a lunar flyby in June of 2020, but hopefully, it’ll take us further into space than we’ve ever gone before. 

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Blue Origin New Shepard

Blue Origin is a commercial space company owned by Amazon, the online shopping store. This is the reusable rocket they designed for space tourism. Unlike most rockets that need a lot of parts to get off the ground, this is all that’s needed. It’s got a 100% success rate, and tickets should go on sale in 2019.

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SpaceX BFR

If you’re interested in space travel, you’ve probably heard of SpaceX, the private space company that’s looking to put people on the Moon, Mars, and any other extraterrestrial body that starts with the letter “M.” The BFR, short for Big Falcon Rocket, is designed for repeated interplanetary travel. And the best part? It was modeled after the rocket in the 1953 comic “The Adventures of Tintin.”

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