The North American X-15, a rocket-powered research aircraft, bridged the gap between manned flight in the atmosphere and space flight. After its initial test flights in 1959, the X-15 became the first winged aircraft to attain hypersonic velocities of Mach 4, 5, and 6 (four to six times the speed of sound) and to operate at altitudes well above 30,500 meters (100,000 feet). The X-15 is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.
Related articles from airspacemag.com:
Above & Beyond: An Extra Two Seconds