a 40-foot tall prototype VTVL RLV

The DC-X/XA was a highly focused operations demonstration program in which the majority of our key personnel participated. The DC-X/XA proved the ability to achieve aircraft-like operations for a vertical take-off/vertical landing (VTVL) reusable launch vehicle. It had 12 successful flights between 1993 and 1996 and was initiated by the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. The program continued under NASA-MSFC guidance as DC-XA in 1995. In only 24 months, this highly complex technology demonstration program went from contract award to first flight. The flight mechanics system, software, and mission development system were developed in only 14 months by a team of 12 people, enabling the vehicle to successfully perform extremely complex maneuvers. The DC-X/XA program resulted in a reduction in mission development and verification labor-hours of 80% relative to the same functions performed for the Delta launch vehicle.

The USL LLC team contributed to the development and operation of the DC-X/XA flight control software including vehicle modeling and simulation, stability and control design and verification, pre-flight mission planning and post-flight analysis. The USL LLC team pioneered the flight software rapid prototyping and validation process that resulted in flight critical software being delivered on time and on budget. A key USL LLC team member was the DC-X/XA chief avionics design engineer responsible for system design & integration, equipment procurement, integration & test and flight test program support/anomaly resolution. Furthermore, a control system validation tool capable of analyzing a new flight test profile in two hours was developed by a member of the USL LLC team.

to download a QuickTime movie of one of the successful flights.

to access a summary web page created by NASA to document the successful DC-X/XA program.