McDonnell-Douglas DC-Y Space Clipper (1993)
About the Design
In the late 1980s, McDonnell Douglas set to work on the development of a single-stage-to-orbit vehicle that could replace the clumsy and very expensive space shuttle. By 1993, they had their answer: The DC-Y "Space Clipper." Like classic rocketships of the 1950s, the DC-Y was designed to lift off and land vertically. Like today's commercial airliners, it was supposed to ferry both passengers and cargo and could be prepped for flight in as little as 24 hours. And its designers said it could do it all for a cost that was 90 percent less than flying the Shuttle.
In 1996, McDonnell Douglas -- now under contract with NASA --successfully test-flew the DC-X, a one-third-size technology demonstrator capable of taking off, hovering, and then landing vertically. Although the test was hailed as the beginning of a new era in space travel, budget cutbacks and resource reallocation soon resulted in the cancellation of this ambitious and potentially valuable program.
About the Kit
This flying model of the conceptual DC-Y was released by Quest in 1993. Components consisted of a cardboard inner-frame, printed paper aeroshroud and a plastic nose. The exhaust nozzles and landing legs were likewise paper.
Although not a true representation of the actual Space Clipper -- its nose is far too sharp and narrow -- it remains one of the few models, flying or static, of this historic concept, one that one day may be resurrected.
This model was built from an original issue.