Twenty years before modern spaceflight companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin began designing rockets that launch and land vertically, the DC-X had already done it.
Manufactured by McDonnell Douglas, the DC-X, short for Delta Clipper Experimental, was a single stage reusable rocket that was conceived to demonstrate the vertical takeoff and vertical land capability that was previously only possible in the realms of science fiction. Indeed, the DC-X looked something straight from the future. An elongated, white pyramid standing on four slender legs. It was only 12 meters tall, a dwarf among rockets.
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The first test flight of the Delta Clipper-Experimental Advanced. Photo: NASA