February 5, 2009

Rocket Racing League

It’s so much better than NASCAR or even the Red Bull Air Races. Rocket-powered airplanes will race against each other in real time for live audiences. Folks at home can watch too on TV or streaming internet. This will be a lot more entertaining than the Red Bull Air Races in which the planes take turns, one at a time, through a timed race course.

The airplanes of choice for the Rocket Racing League are heavily modified Velocities from Velocity Aircraft. The Velocity already has a futuristic appearance due to the pusher engine and the composite construction. The rocket racer teams replace the standard piston engine with a 2000-pound thrust rocket engine that gulps liquid oxygen and kerosene (or ethanol).

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The competitions are unique in that they will not need a lot of infrastructure like sports stadiums or race tracks. A Rocket Race can be hosted by any existing medium-sized airport. The Federal Aviation Administration has approved 20 locations so far.

The league expects 10 rocket racers to be ready for the 2010 season.

The Rocket Racing League was founded by Indy 500 champion team owner Granger Whitelaw and Dr. Peter Diamandis who founded the X Prize foundation. The X Prize paved the way for Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne team to blast two civilian astronauts into space.

We got a chance to talk briefly with Dr. Diamandis at AirVenture. What a thrill!

~Matt Thomas

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