Andrew J. Butrica
1 July 1997
Revised 7 December 1997,
16 February 1998, October 28, 1998
January 4, 2000, September 1, 2000,
April 11, 2001, and February 25, 2003

The X-33 History Project was established to create an archive, a set of oral history interviews, a website, a monograph, and a history book appropriate for the NASA History Series, in addition to historical fact sheets, an annual chronology of key events, oral presentations, and articles published in popular and technical journals. Please keep in mind that the following is subject to change. In fact, the History Project ceased to function as of March 2001, at NASA's request.


The archive will become a permanent record of the X-33 program, and will serve as the basis for preparing X-33 history publications. At the end of the History Project, it will become a part of the NASA History Office archives, although the documents likely will be stored physically at the National Archives (Suitland, MD). At present, there are no plans to make the X-33 archive available to researchers or the public until after the archive is turned over to the NASA History Office. The archive will be turned over to the NASA History Office in May 2001.

 Oral History Interviews.

A total of 80 to 100 oral history interviews were scheduled to be conducted for the X-33 History Project. To date, several dozen interviews were conducted. All interviews will be transcribed, and the transcripts and tapes will be stored at the NASA History Office.

 Home Page.

You are there!


Originally, one of the first major publications of the X-33 History Project was to be a monograph of under 100 pages on some aspect of the development of the X-33. The monograph would be limited in scope, appropriately illustrated, and accompanied by original documents in an appendix. When completed, the monograph would have been made available from NASA, as well as the X-33 History Project, through this home page.

Instead of the monograph, however, the Historian, with the agreement of NASA, lengthened the draft monograph into a book-length manuscript. The book deals with the history of the DC-X, built by McDonnell Douglas for the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization's Single Stage to Orbit (SSTO) Program. It traces the search for reusable and single-stage-to-orbit launchers from early concepts to the creation of the SSTO Program to the transformation of the DC-X into the DC-XA as a NASA program, the first X vehicle in the space agency's new RLV Program.

The book manuscript is now in a draft form and is undergoing review by various individuals, most of whom were involved in the history of the DC-X and DC-XA. The current plan is to see the manuscript published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in November 2003.

 Formal X-33 Project History.

A formal history of the X-33 Project would have been prepared as a NASA Special Publication in the NASA History Series. The project history would have been written for an educated informed popular audience and will meet the scholarly and editorial standards set for all volumes in the NASA History Series. It was to have been published at the end of the X-33 History Project, that is, in March 2002. Initial drafting of an outline of the history book has begun. Because of NASA's decision to terminate the X-33 History Project, the formal history will not be written.

 Fact Sheets.

The X-33 History Project periodically issued brief, illustrated historical fact sheets about various aspects of the development of the X-33. All fact sheets have been posted to this site. Seven fact sheets are available elsewhere on this site. These deal with the policy origins of the X-33, the NASA "Access to Space" Study, NASA's X-2000 advanced technology demonstrator test vehicle, the end of the Cold War, the possible end of support for single-stage-to-orbit concepts (the DC-X), the conversion of the DC-X into NASA's DC-XA, and the X-34. No more fact sheets are planned.

 Oral Presentations.

Oral presentations on the history of the X-33 will be made to technical and nontechnical groups. A list of them, and copies of some of the papers, are available on this site HERE.

 Annual Chronologies.

The annual chronologies capture the key events in the development of the X-33, and they are available on this web site HERE.

 General and Academic Articles.

Articles written for both popular and academic audiences will be published periodically. Notices of their publication will appear on this homepage. These articles will treat issues arising from the development of the X-33, such as government-industry relations and the commercial launch industry and the use of cooperative agreements to induce industrial investment and participation in the development and testing of space technologies.

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