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Space History Photo: Pilot Joe Walker and the X-1A

space history photo, NACA, NASA,
Cowboy Joe mounts his steed. (Image credit: NASA.)

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, Cowboy Joe (NACA High-Speed Flight Station test pilot Joseph Walker) and his steed (Bell Aircraft Corporation X-1A). A happy Joe was photographed in January 1955 at Edwards, California.

The X-1A was flown six times by Bell Aircraft Company pilot Jean "Skip" Ziegler in 1953. Air Force test pilots Major Charles "Chuck" Yeager and Major Arthur "Kit" Murray made 18 flights between November 21, 1953 and August 26, 1954. The X-1A was then turned over to the NACA.

Joe Walker piloted the first NACA flight on July 20, 1955. Walker attemped a second flight on August 8, 1955, but an explosion damaged the aircraft just before launch. Walker, unhurt, climbed back into the JTB-29A mothership, and the X-1A was jettisoned over the Edwards AFB bombing range.

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