This fall, a spacecraft from a galaxy far, far, away will go on display at the Museum in DC: a full-sized T-70 X-wing Starfighter “flown” by Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019). The screen-used vehicle is on long-term loan from Lucasfilm and is displayed hanging outside the planetarium.

“Despite taking place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars introduced generations of fans here on Earth to outer space as a setting for adventure and exploration,” said Margaret Weitekamp, space history chair at the museum. “All air and space milestones begin with inspiration, and science fiction so often provides that spark—the iconic X-wing displayed amid our other spacecraft celebrates the journey from imagination to achievement.”

From arrival to installation, the X-wing's journey at the National Air and Space Museum was documented by our incredible photography team, consisting of National Air and Space Museum photographers Mark Avino, Eric Long, and Jim Preston. The photo essay below shows the process of taking the X-wing from screen-used prop to museum-ready artifact.  

The X-wing arrived from London in spring 2021, inside large wooden crates that obscured the galactic nature of the artifact within. It was moved into the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar at the Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center by members of the Museum’s Collections Processing Unit.

Two of the four crates of the Star Wars X-Wing after arriving from London in March 2021. (Photo by Mark Avino)
 

The X-wing was then uncrated in the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, where it sat partially-assembled among other iconic craft in the history of aviation and space, including the Martin B-26 Flak-Bait. In the Restoration Hangar, members of the Museum’s curatorial, conservation, and restoration teams worked together to put together a plan for rigging and displaying the screen-used vehicle, which was built to stand, not hang.

Star Wars X-wing in the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar in May 2021. (Photo by Jim Preston)
 

While in the Restoration Hangar, visitors were able to witness the work being done on the X-wing from the Restoration Hangar overlook at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Visitors viewing the Star Wars X-Wing in the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar. (Photo by Mark Avino)
 

The X-wing display will include a trusty droid companion: a model of R2-D2 sitting behind the cockpit as depicted in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. In this photo, museum specialist Matt Voight calculated the measurements for installing R2-D2 in the craft. (Photo by Mark Avino) 

Museum specialist Matt Voight checking the measurement for the R2-D2 to attach onto the X-wing in September 2021. (Photo by Mark Avino)
 

After months in the Restoration Hangar, in late 2021 the X-wing was disassembled so that it could be moved to the National Air and Space Museum location in Washington, DC, for display.

A team of contractors, and Preservation Restoration Unit and Conservation Unit staff disassemble the Star Wars X-wing for transport to the Museum in DC in September 2021. (Photo by Mark Avino)
 

After its arrival at the Museum in DC, staff and contractors moved the X-wing's fuselage, engines, and wings into the Museum. This involved bringing them through the Museum's under-construction galleries, raising them over the balcony in the Space Race gallery, and moving them to the area outside the planetarium where the X-wing would be assembled and raised.

The X-wing arrives at the Museum in Washington, DC, and is moved through the America By Air gallery in November 2021. (Photo by Jim Preston)
The X-wing fuselage on the balcony of the Space Race gallery after being raised to the second floor in November 2021. (Photo by Jim Preston)
Museum staff and contractors move the X-wing wings along the Space Race gallery balcony in November 2021. (Photo by Jim Preston)

And then it was the moment we were all waiting for: assembling the X-wing, raising it into position, and tilting it so that the display is perfect.

Staff and contractors raise and tilt the X-wing in November 2021. (Photo by Jim Preston)
Staff and contractors assemble the X-wing in November 2021. (Photo by Jim Preston)
Staff and contractors assemble the X-wing in November 2021. (Photo by Jim Preston)
Staff and contractors raise and tilt the X-wing in November 2021. (Photo by Jim Preston)
The X-wing is protected by plastic after being installed at the Museum in DC in November 2021. (Photo by Jim Preston)

The X-wing can be seen at the National Air and Space Museum in DC beginning October 14, 2022. Learn more about visiting the Museum in DC.

The Star Wars X-wing hangs outside the Planetarium at the National Air and Space Museum. (Photo by Jim Preston)
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