Space History Photo: X-1E Loaded in B-29 Mothership on Ramp
Bell Aircraft Corporation's X-1E is loaded under the Boeing B-29 mothership in 1955.
Credit: NACA.

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, the Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1E airplane is loaded under the mothership, Boeing B-29. The X-planes had originally been lowered into a loading pit and the launch aircraft towed over the pit, where the rocket plane was hoisted by belly straps into the bomb bay.

By the early 1950s a hydraulic lift had been installed on the ramp at the NACA High-Speed Flight Station to elevate the launch aircraft and then lower it over the rocket plane for mating.

The National Advisory Committe on Aeronautics (NACA) was a precursor to NASA. NACA was created by Congress in 1915.

Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).