Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Go, Space Racer, Go!

‘Rocket racing league’ gets its start
By Alan Boyle
Science editor

The man behind the $10 million X Prize for private spaceflight is joining forces with a venture capitalist who's also an Indy car backer to establish a NASCAR-like racing league for rocket-powered aircraft.

X Prize founder Peter Diamandis and race car capitalist Granger Whitelaw took the wraps off the Rocket Racing League during a Monday news conference, just days before a rocket plane demonstration that could serve as a model for the races.

The first rocket racers would be built by XCOR, with a second generation based on an airframe provided by Velocity Aircraft of Sebastian, Fla., the league said in a statement. Individual teams would own the racers and be able to customize them.

Diamandis said the souped-up racers would burn kerosene fuel rather than alcohol. "These vehicles will literally sport a 20-foot bright brilliant flame out the back," he said.

Patricia Grace Smith, the FAA's associate administrator for commercial space transportation, indicated at the news conference that the league would get a sympathetic hearing.

"We're here because we see this as another means of making rocket flight more tangible to the public. This is an opportunity to introduce the power and thrill of rockets in the form of high-velocity entertainment," Smith said. "Today's announcement resurrects the great American tradition of air racing, wraps it in the technology of the 21st century, and gives the nation a thrilling glimpse of things to come, thanks to Peter Diamandis and Granger Whitelaw. The Rocket Racing League is an atmospheric showcase for the kind of rocket technology that will evolve in time from spectator sport to citizen suborbital spaceflight."

‘Rocket racing league’ gets its start - The New Space Race - MSNBC.com


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