In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, the nose section of the X-1E with pilot Joe Walker suited for a flight at the NASA High-Speed Flight Station, Edwards, California, in January of 1958. The dice and Little Joe are prominently displayed under the cockpit area. NASA employees and the crew chief of the plane worked long hours preparing a craft for flight.
A break from the tedious task was a welcome reprieve at times; hence the private joke between a crew and their pilot evolved. If you know the craps game you've figured it out! (Little Joe is a dice player's slang term for two deuces.)
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).