Blue Gemini

Dan Roam 1999

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Image of Dyna Soar

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Boeing Dyna-Soar

The Dyna-Soar was America's first manned spacecraft which actually reached the hardware stage. Conceived in 1957 as a logical next step after the X-15 rocket plane, the Dyna-Soar (originally designated X-20) was based on Eugen Sanger's WWII-era "Silver Bird" concept of a bomber which could skip around the globe on the upper atmosphere.

The USAF saw the Dyna-Soar as their first step into the military use of outer space and planned numerous versions of the ship, including satellite inspection and electronic and photographic intelligence gathering (shown here). Later versions were also planned as mini-space stations and "orbital bombers" which could carry "stand-off" nuclear weapons into orbit.

When the project was cancelled in 1963 with only one non-flying prototype completed, the USAF's astronaut corps shifted into training for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory, or -- in the case of Dyna- Soar trainee Neil Armstrong -- to NASA's civilian projects.