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Space History Photo: Test Pilot John A. Manke and M2-F3 Lifting Body

space history, NASA, lifting bodies
NASA Research pilot John Manke pictured with the M2-F3 lifting body. (Image credit: NASA.)

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, NASA research pilot John A. Manke is seen here in January of 1972 in front of the M2-F3 lifting body.

Manke was hired by NASA on May 25, 1962, as a flight research engineer. He was later assigned to the pilot's office and flew various support aircraft including the F-104, F-5D, F-111 and C-47.

The M2-F3 reached a top speed of l,064 mph (Mach 1.6). Highest altitude reached by the vehicle was 7l,500 feet on December 21, 1972, the date of its last flight with NASA pilot John Manke at the controls. The information the lifting body program generated contributed to the data base that led to development of today's Space Shuttle program. NASA donated The M2-F3 vehicle to the Smithsonian Institution in December 1973.

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