Joe Walker, a test pilot from NASA

On Aug. 22, 1963, Joe Walker, a test pilot from NASA, flew the X-15 to its peak altitude of 354,200 feet, 67 miles above the Earth’s surface at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. (Courtesy photo)

2 thoughts on “Joe Walker, a test pilot from NASA

  1. Why wasn’t Joe Walker not mentioned as the first American to fly in space even if it was by accident.

    1. Because he wasn’t the first. Joe Walker flew to 107.960 kilometers on 22 August 1963. (The von Kármán Line, at 100 kilometers, is the generally-accepted beginning of “space.”) Alan Shepard was the first American in space, reaching 187.4 kilometers on 5 May 1961; Gus Grissom was next, 190.4 kilometers, 21 July 1961; and third, John Glenn, 20 February 1962. On 3 August 1962, X-15 pilot Robert M. White just missed the von Kármán Line, reaching 95.936 kilometers. White qualified for USAF astronaut wings based on the Air Force definition of space as being above 50 miles altitude. Other X-15 pilots who qualified as astronauts were Bill Dana (93.6 kilometers) and Michael J. Adams (81.08 kilometers).

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