Joe Engle

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Date of Birth August 26, 1932
Place of Birth Kansas
Age 88 years old
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Joe Engle

Joe Henry Engle, is an American pilot, aeronautical engineer and former NASA astronaut. He was the commander of two Space Shuttle missions including STS-2, the program's second orbital flight. He also participated in the Shuttle program's Approach and Landing Tests. Engle is one of twelve pilots who flew the North American X-15, an experimental spaceplane jointly operated by the Air Force and NASA. As an X-15 pilot, Engle made three flights above 50 miles, thus qualifying for astronaut wings under the American convention for the boundary of space. In 1966 he was selected for NASA's fifth Astronaut Group, joining the Apollo program. He was the backup Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 14 and originally scheduled as LMP for Apollo 17. However, cancellation of later flights prompted NASA to select geologist-astronaut Harrison Schmitt as LMP, displacing Engle. Engle is an experienced spaceplane operator and the last living X-15 pilot.

Nationality: American
Status: Retired
Born: August 26, 1932, Chapman, Kansas, U.S.
Other names: Joe Henry Engle
Other occupation: Test pilot
Alma mater: University of Kansas, B.S. 1955
Rank: Major General, USAF
Time in space: 9d 08h 30m
Selection: 1966 NASA Group 5
Missions: X-15 Flight 138, X-15 Flight 143, X-15 Flight 153, ALT, STS-2, STS-51-I
Retirement: November 28, 1986

About Joe Engle

Notable as a test pilot for NASA and the U.S. Air Force's North American X-15 project, he piloted a 1977 test flight of the Space Shuttle Enterprise and went on to head a 1981 test of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Before Fame

After completing his bachelor's degree in Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Kansas, he joined the United States Air Force. He began his career with NASA in early 1966.


His numerous honors include the NASA and U.S. Air Force Distinguished Service Medals; the Society of Experimental Test Pilots' Iven C. Kincheloe Prize; and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' Pioneer of Flight Award.

Family Life

He was born and raised in Chapman, Kansas. His marriage to Mary Catherine Lawrence produced children named Jon and Laurie; he later married Jeanie Carter.


He and fellow astronaut Joseph Walker were both X-15 test pilots.

Information related to Joe Engle

  • The Astronaut Monument - The Astronaut Monument is a monument commemorating the training of Apollo astronauts in northern Iceland in 1965 and 1967.
  • X-15 program
  • Aviators from Kansas
  • Recipients of the NASA Exceptional Service Medal
  • Harmon Trophy winners
  • United States Air Force astronauts
  • Collier Trophy recipients
  • United States Astronaut Hall of Fame inductees
  • Recipients of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal
  • National Aviation Hall of Fame inductees
  • U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School alumni
  • American test pilots
  • NASA people
  • Recipients of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal
  • American aerospace engineers
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Latest information about Joe Engle updated on October 28, 2020.

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