On June 11, 1957, Convair conducted its first test of the Convair X-11. A division of General Dynamics since 1953, Convair was famous for its B-36 strategic bomber, the largest land-based, piston-engined bomber in the world. Convair also pioneered the delta-winged aircraft design used for the F-102 Delta Dagger and F-106 Delta Dart interceptors, and the B-58 Hustler supersonic intercontinental nuclear bomber.
Convair’s first X-11 test was a static test. The rocket was mounted on a stand and the engines fired in place – the first X-11 never left the ground. Later X-11s in the series were launched successfully.
The X-11 went through several transformations before becoming the basis for the Atlas expendable launch system, which was incorporated as part of the Mariner space probes and the Mercury and Saturn program rockets. Atlas descendants are currently in use as satellite launch vehicles for commercial and military applications and for other space vehicles.
Image Credit: U.S. Air Force