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Neil Armstrong's Perilous X-15 Test Flight

Before becoming the first man to walk on the moon Neil Armstrong was a proven test pilot for NASA. On April 20, 1962, Armstrong experienced a harrowing flight, testing the new X-15. It was a plane designed to go higher than any other. In 1959, the new plane would drop from a B-52 bomber at 30,000 feet to go straight up. On that flight in 1962, Armstrong reached speeds five times greater than the speed of sound and an altitude of nearly 200,000 feet. But the plane was pointed in the wrong direction that caused it to literally bounce off the atmosphere. It threw Armstrong off course, his only option was to free fall and find a landing space in a dry lake bed nearly 50 miles from his intended destination of Edwards Air Force base.

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