The riveting true story of the world’s fastest plane and the first manned flights into outer space. First tested in 1959, the X-15 rocket plane was at the forefront of the space race. Developed by the US Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in collaboration with North American Aviation, the X-15 was sleek, black, and powerful—a missile with stubby wings and a cockpit on the nose. By 1961 it could reach speeds over three thousand miles per hour and fly at an altitude of thirty-one miles above the earth’s surface—the lower reaches of outer space. Acclaimed journalist and bestselling author Richard Tregaskis tells the story of the X-15’s development through the eyes of the brave pilots and brilliant engineers who made it possible. From technological breakthroughs to disastrous onboard explosions to the bone-crushing effects of intense g-force levels, Tregaskis captures all the drama and excitement of this crucial proving ground for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. X-15 Diary recounts a thrilling chapter in the history of the American space program and serves as a fitting tribute to the courageous scientists and adventurers who dared to go where no man had gone before. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Richard Tregaskis including rare images from the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming.