During the X-15 program, 13 flights by eight pilots met the Air Force spaceflight criterion by exceeding the altitude of 50 miles (80 km), thus qualifying these pilots as being astronauts . The Air Force pilots qualified for astronaut wings immediately, while the civilian pilots were eventually awarded NASA astronaut wings in 2005, 35 years after the last X-15 flight. The only Navy pilot in the X-15 program never took the aircraft above the requisite 50 mile altitude and so as a result, never earned himself astronaut wings. [3] [4]

X-15 is a 1961 dramatic aviation film that presents a fictionalized account of the X-15 research rocket aircraft program, the test pilots who flew the aircraft, and the associated NASA community that supported the program. X-15 starred David McLean , Charles Bronson , [Note 1] Mary Tyler Moore (in her first feature film role), [2] Kenneth Tobey and James Gregory . The film marked the directorial debut of Richard Donner , [3] and was narrated by James Stewart . [4] [Note 2]

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