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Just like any other industry or field, space travel and exploration has overtime undergone a revolution with major names making the revolution history of this particular history. Such names like Boeing 707, the Bell X-1 and the NASA Mercury capsule remain in history as the triggers of the revolution and as a result, these innovations are of great importance in the study of the Aviation history.
As regarding these names, it is conventional knowledge in the history of aviation that these names are in the heart of the historical transformation of the industry. This paper focuses on these historical names with the view of identifying and explaining the role played by each of these players in the revolution and development of the aircrafts present today.
This was an innovation by Boeing between 1958 and 1979. The major characteristic feature that identifies this innovation was a narrow size, and its swept-wing design.
The capacity of this plane ranged from 120 to 140 people and could cruise range of between 3,680 and 3,735 nautical miles (Bradley 36). Though it was not the first of its kind, this jet obtained its fame from the fact that it was the first one to achieve commercial success.
In the development of the Boeing 707, the design of the wing was a major concern. This pushed for the study of the wing design of preceding models including the B-47 and C-97. One thing that the designers agreed is that no matter the outcome, the result of the designed must serve both military and civil purposes (Bradley 46).
This realization finally realized the adoption of the 367-80, commonly referred to as “dash 80”. This was powered by turbojet engine, more precisely the Pratt & Whitney JT3C a civilian version of the J57 (Winchester 18). By august 1955, the prototype was ready for test pilot, which Tex Johnston did.
Two years later, the first version of the 707 was ready for flight and in September 1958, the jet received its FAA certification (Winchester 28). In the subsequent years, various orders of the jet placed various request for modifications thus resulting to a series of the crafts under this innovation.
The Bell X-1
Unlike the 707, whose development was with a multipurpose mentality, the Bell X-1 was purely a war machine. This is outright from the outside of the craft.
Its original shape was that of a machine gun bullet, and so, the developer referred to as the “bullet with wings” (Winchester 56). The development of this plane was a joint project by the U.S. Army Air Forces (Flight Test Division) and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) conceived in 1944 and rolled out in 1945.
With reference to the purpose of its creation, it is obvious that some aspects of the plane are important. One of such aspects is its speed. The plane could travel at a speed higher than that of sound thus achieving a controlled, level flight speed of above 1600m/hr (Winchester 58). For the plane to achieve this speed, the developers contracted Reaction Motors Inc, a company that developed the planes liquid-propellant rocket engines. In addition to speed, this planes’ design enables it to cruise at an altitude of 27km.
The NASA Mercury Capsule
The last of the legendary names in the in the aviation history, as in this paper is the NASA Mercury capsule. The Mercury projects’ aim was to ensure that the America was the first to put a human round the orbit of the earth before the Soviet Union. Again just like the Bell X-1, the focus of this project was speed.
This is evident by the name choice, which represents the roman goddess of speed (Walter 78). From the purpose of the spacecraft, it is clear that the other idea behind the initiative was to create a capability to fly in high altitudes in the craft, again, an enhancement of the idea of the Bell X-1.
The design of this craft was that of a single crewmember due to its small size. Another important feature of its design is that it had a reliable launch escape system, unlike the Bell X-1 and therefore, in case of a faulty launch, it was able to separate the astronaut from the launch vehicle (Walter 81). The last thing in its design that is important is the ability to safely land in water.
Keith Glennan, the administrator of the NASA, approved the project on October 1958 and made a public announcement in December the same year (Walter 76). Towards the end of December the same year, North American Aviation won a contract to design and build launch vehicle while McDonnell Aircraft Corporation won the contract as the prime contractor in the following year January.
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From the above discussion, it is clear that each of these innovations played an important role in the history of aviation. The 707 introduced the idea of the body design common after it for both passenger and commercial flights. The Bell X-1 influenced the view of speed and altitude while the Mercury project in it time ushered the world into space explorations.
Bradley, Catherine. Boeing 707 Super Profile. UK, Yeovil: Haynes Publishing, 1983. Print.
Winchester, Jim. Boeing 707. UK, Shrewsbury: Airlife, 2002. Print.
Winchester, Jim. “Bell X-1.” Concept Aircraft: Prototypes, X-Planes and Experimental Aircraft (The Aviation Factfile). UK, Kent: Grange Books, 2005. Print.
Walter, McDougall. “Shooting the Moon,” American Heritage, 2010. Print.