UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


'Mothership' retires

12/20/2004 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFPN) -- NASA's B-52B Stratofortress "mothership" air-launch aircraft has retired after nearly 50 years of dropping advanced research vehicles.

Officials at the Air Force Flight Test Center and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Dryden Flight Research Center here held a retirement ceremony Dec. 17.

For most of its lifetime, this B-52 has participated in some of the most significant projects in aerospace history, officials said. At its retirement, the air launch and research aircraft was NASA's oldest aircraft, as well as the oldest flyable B-52. At the same time, it has the lowest number of flying hours of any B-52 in operation, having been used exclusively for research.

The aircraft first flew in June 1955 and was flown by the Air Force in the B-52 test program for several years before it was modified to support the X-15 research aircraft program in 1959. It flew its last research mission Nov. 16, launching the scramjet-powered X-43A hypersonic research aircraft on its record Mach 9.6 flight over the Pacific Ocean.

Officials said they plan to place the aircraft on permanent display here.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list