New Mexico Museum of Space History
International Space Hall of Fame

Joe Engle
Inducted in 2014

Experimental aircraft pilot who also helped develop the Space Shuttle Orbiter.

Joe Engle (born 1932): Joe Engle was an X-15 pilot from 1963 to 1965. In that time he flew the experimental craft to altitudes above 50 miles three times. As a member of the 1966 Astronaut Class, Engle helped to develop the Space Shuttle Orbiter in 1977. He was the commander of STS-2, in 1981, and STS-51-I, in 1985. Engle is the only man to have entered outer space aboard two different fixed-wing craft. He is also the only person to have manually flown the shuttle through re-entry and landing.

Joe Henry Engle was born August 26, 1932, in Chapman, Kansas. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas. From 1963 to 1966, Engle helped to flight test the X-15 rocket airplane for NASA and the Air Force. This earned him USAF astronaut wings before he formally entered the astronaut program.

Engle was chosen to fly on the last lunar-landing mission, Apollo 17, but was replaced in 1972 by Harrison Schmitt after the cancellation of Apollo 18. He was next one of the first astronauts in the Space Shuttle program, and took part in the flight tests of having flight tested the Space Shuttle Enterprise in 1977. Four years later, he was commander of STS-2, the second orbital test flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia. In 1985, he was mission commander on STS-51-I.

Joe Engle has logged over 225 hours in space. He is the only person to have flown two different types of winged vehicles in space, the X-15 and the Space Shuttle. He is also the only man who has manually flown the shuttle through reentry and landing.

Engle was next NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight, from March 1982 to December 1982. He participated in the Challenger disaster investigation in 1986, and did other consulting work on the Shuttle. He retired from both NASA and the Air Force in November 1986. He is a member of National Aviation Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Major General (Ret.) Joe Engle has flown over 175 different types of aircraft (25 different fighters) during his career: logging more than 15,400 hours flight time; 9,000 in jet aircraft.