Nose of North American X-15

Nose of the North American X-15

The "Q-Ball" in the nose of the X-15  served as an inertial flight data system capable of functioning in a highly dynamic pressure environment.  The 199 flights of the X-15 program gathered valuable data for the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle programs. The X-15 pioneered new heat-resistant materials, as well as flight control systems that could transition between air and space.