Xcor EZ-Rockets set to race in New Mexico

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Former X-Prize contender XCor Aerospace could build four to six of its rocket-powered EZ-Rocket aircraft for races to be held by the X-Prize Foundation starting in 2006.

As in Formula One motor racing, each EZ-Rocket would be raced by a sponsored team and the X-Prize Foundation is seeking sponsors as well as investing money itself. California, USA-based XCor built the first EZ-Rocket as part of its research into reusable horizontal take-off and landing launch vehicles.

“We would travel around the USA with [those aircraft] as a racing team,” says X-Prize Foundation executive vice-president Diane Murphy.

The EZ-Rocket is a modified Rutan Long-EZ kitplane. It is powered by twin 400lb-thrust (1.78kN) regeneratively cooled rockets, fuelled by isopropyl alcohol and liquid oxygen (LOX) from an external composite tank and an insulated internal aluminium tank, respectively.

The EZ-Rockets would have on-board miniature cameras to transmit pictures, like Formula One, to television viewers and huge screens for spectators.

The races would form part of the X-Prize Cup event, to be held at a New Mexico spaceport every year from October.

There are no races scheduled to be held this year, only 200ft (60m) demonstration launches by former X-Prize team Armadillo Aerospace, X-Prize team static displays and flights by the existing EZ-Rocket aircraft.