If you thought that an aircraft required wings, you’d be wrong, as the fleet of lifting-body aircraft developed by NASA would indicate. Designed as a way for astronauts to safely re-enter Earth from space, the M2-F1 resembles a motorboat or bathtub more than it does a highly sophisticated aircraft.
From 1963 to 1975, NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center would test a variety of different Lifting Body variations, with the M2-F1 being one of the tackiest designs of them all.
The M2-F1 pioneered the lifting body program for NASA, with the construction of the craft completed in 1963. The first M2-F1, built by sailplane designer Gus Briegleb, was astoundingly created using a plywood shell placed over a steel frame. This design would lead the program to create several iterations over its duration, with the last model, the similarly peculiar-looking X-24B, taking its last flight in 1975.