Gallery: Artifacts of the DC-X Reusable Rocket Prototype

DC-X Fixed in Space History

New Mexico Museum of Space History

Twenty years after it made its first flight, the Delta Clipper Experimental, or DC-X, is getting its day in a museum. An exhibit on the reusable rocket prototype called DC-X SpaceQuest is being prepared at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo. This photo montage shows how the DC-X reusable rocket prototype launched and landed vertically during trials in 1993.


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This model shows what a production version of the Delta Clipper (known as DC-1) would have looked like. It was on display inside the hangar of Spaceport America during the 20th anniversary celebrations of DC-X, next to a piece of the rocket prototype's landing gear.

Rocket Engine

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DC-XA, an advanced version of the vertical takeoff and landing vehicle, was largely destroyed when it toppled over and exploded during its last flight in 1996. But the museum has salvaged many components, including one of the original RL10 engines, shown here.

Landing Gear

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The DC-XA's downfall was blamed on a landing leg that failed to deploy during its last flight, causing it to crash and burn. This landing strut was a reserve unit.

Thrust Structure

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DC-XA's thrust structure, with part of the liquid hydrogen tank still attached at the top, will also on be display in New Mexico.

DC-X Reunion

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Bill Gaubatz, the McDonnell-Douglas DC-X program manager, stands in front of the thrust structure of the rocket prototype on Aug. 17, 2013. The team was gathered to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the vehicle's first test flight.

First Test Flight of the Delta Clipper-Experimental Advanced (DC-XA)


The Delta Clipper-Experimental Advanced (DC-XA) made its first successful test fight at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

DC-X's Temporary Home

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For now, many of the DC-X components are being housed in the museum's Daisy Track Building.

New Mexico Museum of Space History

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Some of the parts of DC-X are slated to go inside the museum's main facility after a series of renovations.

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Megan Gannon Contributing Writer

Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity on a Zero Gravity Corp. to follow students sparking weightless fires for science. Follow her on Twitter for her latest project.