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The HL-10 was one of five aircraft built in the Lifting Body Research Program. It was a NASA design and was built to evaluate "inverted airfoil" lifting body and delta planform.
The HL-10 was delivered to the FRC by Northrop in January 1966. Its first flight was on Dec. 22 of the same year. The pilot was Bruce Peterson, before he was injured in the M2-F2 accident. The HL-10 was flown 37 times and it set several program records. On Feb. 18, 1970, Air Force test pilot Maj. Peter Hoag flew it to 1,228 mph (Mach 1.86), fastest speed of any of the lifting bodies. Nine days later, NASA's Bill Dana flew the HL-10 to 90,303 feet, the highest altitude reached by any of the lifting body vehicles. The HL-10 was also the first lifting body to fly supersonically -- on May 9, 1969, with NASA's John Manke at the controls.
The HL-10 featured a flat bottom and rounded top -- much like an airfoil -- and it had a delta planform. In its final configuration, three vertical fins, two of them canted outwards from the body and a tall center fin, gave the craft directional control. A flush canopy blended into the smooth rounded nose. It was about 21 feet long, with a span of 13.6 feet. Its glide-flight weight was
Flights with the HL-10 contributed substantially to the decision to design the space shuttles without air-breathing engines that
HL-10 Project Home Page
HL-10 Fact Sheet
Lifting Bodies Fact Sheet
Testing the Lifting Bodies at Edwards by Robert G. Hoey.