Aircraft without wings! (NASA M2-F1)

Wingless Aircraft NASA M2-F1

Image from: - Wikimedia

The wing is most important part of the aircraft. From my post, How Aircraft Fly, we know that Wing gives a lift to the Aircraft. To know about how Aircraft wing produces a lift, look at my this post. But in 1963 NASA developed an aircraft which had no wings. The Aircraft was NASA M2-F1.  Here M stands for Manned & F stands for flight. (So Manned 2 Flight 1).

M2-F1 was developed by NASA engineers at the Ames Research Center. It was developed as an alternative to a capsule spacecraft. So it can re-enter in earth's atmosphere.

Image from: - Wikimedia

The M2-F1 was made of wood, had an internal framework of steel tubes, looked like a bathtub sitting on a tricycle. M2-F2 didn't use wings to produce lift. Aircraft was designed in such way that it used air flowing over its body to produce lift. This design allowed it to re-enter in earth's atmosphere and land on a runway like a conventional airplane. 

The wingless, M2-F1 aircraft design was initially conceived as a means of landing a spacecraft horizontally after atmospheric reentry. The absence of wings would make the extreme heat of reentry less damaging to the vehicle. M2-F1 took its first flight on 16 August 1963. But this design was rejected & retired on 16 August 1966.

General characteristics (From Wikipedia)

Crew: one
Length: 20 ft (6.1 m)
Wingspan: 14 ft 2 in (4.32 m)
Height: 9 ft 6 in (2.89 m)
Wing area: 139 ft² (12.9 m²)
Empty weight: 1,000 lb (454 kg)
Loaded weight: 1,182 lb (536 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 1,250 lb (567 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Solid fuel rocket, 250 lbf (~1.1 kN)

Performance (From Wikipedia)

Maximum speed: 150 mph (240 km/h)
Range: 10 mi (16 km)
Wing loading: 9 lb/ft² (44 kg/m²)

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