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[b]First American Astronaut Lost in Space Flight to Receive Memorial[/b]
On the morning of 15 November 1967, Major Michael J. Adams, USAF, launched on what was to become a flight into history. Piloting the number three X-15 on the 191st flight of this historic program, Major Adams was to conduct six space flight related experiments. This would be the first sub orbital mission for Adams, having completed six previous atmospheric flights in the X-15.
During the ascent portion of the flight, the first of a long series of small technical problems began to arise. Later during the Zero G and early reentry phases, more problems occurred. Mike Adams found himself in histories' first hypersonic spin. Due to the natural stability of the X-15 and Mike's excellent piloting skills, a recovery from the spin was accomplished. However, the terribly high G forces encountered during the spin had overloaded the ships' computer assisted aerodynamic and reaction flight control systems. When Adams applied control pressure to the stick and rudder, the commands were improperly translated to the control systems. The ship entered another spin. At this point, the dynamic forces were more than the ship could handle and Major Adams and the X-15 #3 met their end during reentry over the Mojave Desert.
At this point in U. S. Space History, not much mention was made of this event due to the recent loss of the Apollo 1 crew and the preparation for the upcoming Apollo 7 flight. Mike Adams and the 10th space flight of the X-15 program faded into obscurity. Adams did receive a small amount of recognition in 1991 when the Astronaut memorial was dedicated at Kennedy Space Center. All alone in a lonely corner of the stone Mike Adams' name can be found. There is however no mention of who he was or how he met his fate as the first U.S. astronaut lost during a space mission. The events in the California skies happened a long way from the action in Florida.
On May 8 2004, all this will change. A monument being constructed at the site where he and the X-15 came to rest will honor Major Mike Adams and his contributions to the U.S. Space Program. Spearheading the project is Eagle Scout Candidate John Bodylski and Maj. Greg Frazier, Aerospace Historian. Together with the help of dozens of volunteers, a stylish monument weighing nearly two tons will be erected. A plaque made of Inconel X (the material the X-15 was made of) will relate the story of the event. The location of the monument is in the desert wilderness, miles from civilization, and obtaining permission from the Bureau of Land Management for its placement was no easy task. In the end, the BLM really came through and is even going to donate and transport the required concrete!
The ceremony is of course open to all who wish to attend. The location is very remote however and those interested in attending must take this into consideration. The desert can be a harsh place and there will be no amenities at the site. The ceremony will begin at 11:00 PDT on 8 May and last approximately 20 minutes. Major Adam's family will be in attendance. A lunch will follow in a nearby mining community.
Images and stories of the event will be sent to collectSPACE for all to enjoy. Those interested in braving the Mojave Desert and attending should contact Greg Frazier at 949-548-5696. A map will be posted soon on the Aerospace Archaeology web site XB-70.com.
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