Steam to the Rescue: NACA, NASA, and RCS

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“Steam to the Rescue: NACA, NASA, and RCS” by Christian Gelzer
Published in Quest Volume: 27 #4 (2020)


Because the X-15 would fly at a lower dynamic pressure than any other aircraft then in existence in the 1950s, an alternative to aerodynamic control surfaces was needed. Engineers at the NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station (today the Armstrong Flight Research Center) designed and developed a Reaction Control System, which they tested on the ground and in flight. It was used on the X-15 and Mercury spacecraft, and RCS appeared on all subsequent human-rated spacecraft.


Gelzer, Christian. “Steam to the Rescue: NACA, NASA, and RCS.” Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly 27, no. 4 (2020): 27-38.

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More Information

  • Archive ID # G300734
  • Format: Document (PDF)
  • Author/Creator:
  • Publication Year: 2020
  • Publisher: Quest
  • Copyright Status: Copyrighted
  • Copyright Holder: SPACE 3.0
  • Language: English
  • Number of Pages: 12
  • Type: History
  • Subject:
  • Collection: Quest
  • Availability: Digital Download