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Space History Photo: Free-Falling Body Nose Dives in Desert

space history, air inlets test
A missile-like object, used to test air inlet efficiency, buried its nose in the ground. (Image credit: NACA)

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, a missile-like free-falling body was dropped from an altitude of seven miles in January of 1955.

The purpose of this drop was for the NACA to investigate the efficiency of air inlets of a type suitable for high speed jet aircraft. Its descent rate is checked first by automatic dive brakes (seen partially open) and then by parachute.

The body has buried its nose in the California desert. The delicate onboard instruments which recorded performance data were recovered intact.

The National Advisory Committee 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).

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the U.S. government agency in charge of the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Founded in 1958, NASA is a civilian space agency aimed at exploring the universe with space telescopes,  satellites, robotic spacecraft, astronauts and more. The space agency has 10 major centers based across the U.S. and launches robotic and crewed missions from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida. It's astronaut corps is based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. To follow NASA's latest mission, follow the space agency on Twitter or any other social channel, of visit: nasa.gov