Julie Kalista
Online Editor

The Rocket Racing League (RRL) is an aerospace entertainment organization aiming to host rocket-powered airplane and spaceship racing events. Instead of using a ground track, the league will race over a course extending one-mile vertically, two-miles out, and one-half-mile in the cross-plane direction. As a first step the RRL completed a performance flight-test research program for its rocket plane. There were two public demonstration flights at the X Prize Cup event in Las Cruces, N.M. in October. Col. Richard A. Searfoss, a former NASA Astronaut, piloted the flights.

The rocket plane is powered by two liquid-fuel engines designed, tested, and built by XCOR Aerospace. The XR-4K14 engine is sized to put out 1,500 lbf. and uses a proprietary piston fuel pump that can pump from an unpressurized tank. XCOR's experiments have shown that the piston pump can draw propellant with a low-inlet pressure. The engine uses a regulated helium pressurization system for the LOX tank.

How soon will people be going to watch a rocket race? "Races are slated to begin in late summer 2007 utilizing a fleet of Mark-1 X-Racers [rocket planes]," said Granger Whitelaw, RRL CEO. According to the RRL any private pilot with a strong stomach would be eligible to race in the league. Pilots will follow a tunnel on their cockpit screens to stay on track. RRL intends to race only at airports so multiple planes landing to re-fuel or taking off to race will have plenty of room.

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