Introducing: Thunderhawk -- First X-Racer Officially Named

Introducing: Thunderhawk -- First X-Racer Officially Named
The Rocket Racing League has officially dubbed its first Mark-1 X-Racer "Thunderhawk." The name was chosen from among 2,000 submissions from around the world. (Image credit: Rocket Racing League)

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Its official. The Rocket RacingLeague announced today that its first Mark-1 X-Racer will be known as the Thunderhawk.

The RocketRacing League (RRL) is an aerospace entertainment organization which combinesthe competition of racing with the excitement of rocketry.

Unveilingthe Thunderhawk [image]today at the Wirefly X Prize Cup, RRL officials saidthat the moniker beat out names like Banshee and Sky Warrior in an onlinecontest that generated more than 2,000 submissions from fans around the planet.

The worldheadquarters of the Rocket Racing League is based here. The RRL aims to debutits first NASCAR-style races in late Fall 2007 - afirst-of-its-kind aerospace sports and entertainment league formed by X Prizefounder Peter Diamandis and Granger Whitelaw, atwo-time Indy 500 champion team partner.

[For moredetail on the League's endeavors, read here.]

Bird ofprey

The fansubmitting the winning name is Michael Higgins of New Market, Maryland. He's an engineer and managerworking in the composite pressure vessel industry serving life-support andaerospace/defense applications.

Higgins outlinedtoday how he came up with the Thunderhawk moniker.

"Theaircraft, with its rocket propulsion, combines thunderous sound with brilliantflame and light. So I worked up several names focused on thunder andlight, and tried to connect those with a bird of prey," he explained. 

Higginssaid he expected the RRL races will put rocket propulsion technology in frontof thousands of people through thrilling events. 

"Theyshould generate public interest in rockets and space, much like the famous airraces of the 1920s and 1930s did during the golden era of aviation," Higginssaid.

The contestbegan January 30 and attracted over 2,000 submissions. The top 1,000 names werewhittled down to ten semi-finalists by a panel of RRL judges. Fans then were ableto vote for their favorite name from the top ten on AOL. 

Nearly20,000 votes were cast via AOL, selecting Thunderhawk the most popular name.

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Leonard David
Space Insider Columnist

Leonard David is an award-winning space journalist who has been reporting on space activities for more than 50 years. Currently writing as's Space Insider Columnist among his other projects, Leonard has authored numerous books on space exploration, Mars missions and more, with his latest being "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" published in 2019 by National Geographic. He also wrote "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet" released in 2016 by National Geographic. Leonard  has served as a correspondent for SpaceNews, Scientific American and Aerospace America for the AIAA. He has received many awards, including the first Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History in 2015 at the AAS Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium. You can find out Leonard's latest project at his website and on Twitter.