The United States Postal Service, NASA Langley Research Center, and the Virginia Air & Space Center will commemorate the first day of issue of the new X-Planes Postage Stamps on Friday, March 17, at 10 a.m. with a ceremony in the main gallery of the Virginia Air & Space Center.
The two new postage stamps are part of the U.S. Postal Service's 2006 definitive stamp program. Both feature computer-generated images of the X-15; images which were created by researchers at Langley's Geometry Laboratory in the early 1990s.
A computer simulation program measured a 12-inch wind tunnel model of the X-15 using a laser-digitizing scanner. These measurements were then used to reconstruct a computer model for the simulation software. This was the first real application of a laser digitizer by Langley researchers and showed the practical use of this technology to support computer simulations of aircraft.
Computer simulation is helpful when additional wind tunnel or flight-testing is impractical, and helps researchers safely and efficiently explore flight conditions not achievable by conventional means.
The colors in the images show various scales of pressures and temperatures as a result of the calculation simulating the flow of air at supersonic speeds around the X-15 model — blue is the lowest and red is the highest. The Priority Mail stamp shows the X-15 rotated upward to reveal the most surface area. The Express Mail stamp shows the colors against a meshed grid indicating how air is forced over the plane.
Three rocket-powered X-15s flew a total of 199 times between 1959 and 1968 with speeds up to Mach 6.7 and an altitude record of 354,200 feet (67 miles). The piloted rocket planes contributed to the development of the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle programs and were part of a joint research program by NASA, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, and North American Aviation, Inc. All the X-15 test flights were conducted at the NASA High-Speed Flight Station -- now NASA Dryden Flight Research Center -- in Edwards, Calif.
Local Postal Service representatives will have X-15 stamps for sale and other stamp services available for collectors at the unveiling ceremony.
The Virginia Air & Space Center is the official visitor center for NASA Langley.
For information about NASA's role in the X-15 program or other NASA programs, visit:
For more information about NASA Langley's Geometry Laboratory, visit:
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