…The Evolution Of X Prize…


X-COR’s EZ Rocket is being hailed as the prototype for the race aircraft and it will be put through its paces at the Countdown to the X Prize Cup in Las Cruces, N.M., Oct. 9. The EZ Rocket has been flying for three years and uses a tiny alcohol-fueled rocket motor that can be started and stopped in flight. “Crucial for rocket racing is the ability to turn off and relight the engines,” said Col. Rock Searfoss, a former astronaut who will fly the EZ Rocket on Sunday. “I will do multiple shutoffs and relights in Las Cruces to demonstrate where we’re headed.” The racers will reach speeds of 200 to 300 mph (the piston-powered unlimiteds and most of the sport class aircraft beat that at the Reno Air Races) and Diamandis is promising a spectacle. The alcohol rockets put out an invisible white flame but he expects they’ll be replaced by kerosene motors that spew a 20-foot tail of orange flame. “Imagine not one but 10 of these fire-breathing dragons flying around the race course with vertical climbs and sharp turns,” he said. The races will be short, however. The engines will only run for four minutes, but refueling pit stops could be part of the action.