We've all, or at least a certain generation of us, have seen "The Six Million Dollar Man." The TV series is about a pilot, Steve Austin, who, after nearly being killed in a crash landing, is rebuilt with bionic parts to become a superhuman secret agent of the American Office of Scientific Intelligence.
The opening credits show a real crash, but unlike the fictional pilot, the actual pilot, Bruce Peterson, survived without needing extensive reconstructive surgery.
In the 1960s, NASA and the U.S. Air Force started exploring lifting bodies. These awkward-looking wingless vehicles are designed to generate aerodynamic lift by virtue of their shape; rear fins and control surfaces similar to those on a conventional aircraft allow a pilot to stabilize and control the vehicles in flight to a safe landing.
The M2-F1 - M for manned and F for flight - was a sufficiently successful proof of concept that NASA decided to move forward and build a heavier version. The M2-F2, which drew on research from NASA's Ames and Langley facilities and looked just like its predecessor, weighed 4,620 pounds, was 22 feet long, and about 10 feet wide.