October 7, 1963: Engle: Twin Space Vehicle Pilot

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  • NASA

Captain Joe H. Engle became the third Air Force pilot to fly an X‑15. Engle later completed 16 X-15 flights, three of them high enough (over 50 miles) to win him his United States Air Force astronaut wings. He subsequently became a National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut in 1966 and commanded two Space Shuttle missions, becoming the only person to enter outer space commanding two different winged vehicles.

Maj Gen Joe Henry Engle, USAF, Retired was an American pilot, aeronautical engineer and former NASA astronaut. He was the commander of two Space Shuttle missions including STS-2, the program's second orbital flight. He also participated in the Shuttle program's Approach and Landing Tests. Engle is one of twelve pilots who flew the North American X-15, an experimental spaceplane jointly operated by the Air Force and NASA.  As an X-15 pilot, Engle made three flights above 50 miles, thus qualifying for astronaut wings under the American convention for the boundary of space. In 1966 he was selected for NASA's fifth Astronaut Group, joining the Apollo program. He was the backup Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 14 and originally scheduled as LMP for Apollo 17. However, cancellation of later flights prompted NASA to select geologist-astronaut Harrison Schmitt as LMP, displacing Engle.

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