Friday, May 16, 2008

Flight of the Rocket Racer!

This afternoon, as Mojave baked in one of the season's first really warm days, with the wind strangely out of the northeast, XCOR Aerospace rolled out the Rocket Racer prototype for another of its early test flights. Piloted by retired Shuttle astronaut Rick Searfoss and with a second person also onboard, the highly modified Velocity SE was towed into position on Mojave's Runway 30, performed a 3-second engine test burn, and then took to the sky, climbing steeply to the north. As a part of today's test flight, the rocket engine was shut down and relit twice, before Searfoss glided the aircraft in for a landing in a stiff crosswind.

The Rocket Racing League is envisioned to be a NASCAR-style series of races in which rocket powered aircraft fly a pylon course made more "interesting" by the inclusion of required aerobatic maneuvers at different points in the race. Rocket Racing, Inc, recently acquired the airframe's manufacturer, Velocity Aircraft, and all the racers will be based on this aircraft type. Race teams will have the option of choosing either an XCOR engine or one produced by Armadillo Aerospace. XCor's engine, the XR-4K14, burns kerosene and liquid oxygen to produce 1,500 pounds of thrust.

For more information on the XCOR engine, see

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