Rocket Racing League Tests New Engine

Rocket Racing League Tests New Engine
A rocket racer tests its new liquid oxygen and alcohol engine built by Armadillo Aerospace for the Rocket Racing League. (Image credit: Rocket Racing League ®/Mike D'Angelo)

A rocket-powered racer successfully passed its firstthree flight tests with a new liquid oxygen and alcohol engine, setting thestage for a possible demonstration race in the sky at the 2008 Reno Air Races nextmonth.

Test pilot Len Fox flew the Bridenstine DKNY Rocket Racerfrom Clinton Sherman Industrial Airpark in Burns Flat, Okla., this week onMonday and Tuesday. Each of the three testflights lasted about 10 minutes and reached speeds of up to 190 mph (305kph) using a rocket engine built by the Mesquite, Texas-based firm ArmadilloAerospace for the Rocket Racing League.

?Armadillo is an important partner to the Rocket RacingLeague and we?re thrilled with our initial test flights,? said GrangerWhitelaw, RocketRacing League co-founder and CEO. ?Now that we?ve successfully conducted atest flight with the Armadillo engine, we are looking forward to getting toracing and exhibiting a 21st century sport for the 21st century sports fan.?

Founded in 2005, the Rocket Racing League hopes to pit arocket-powered race aircraft with the Armadillo engine against another thatboasts a liquid oxygen and kerosene engine developed by XCOR Aerospace. The XCORAerospace engine made its public debutin late July and early August during demonstration flights before thousands ofspectators at the EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisc.

Six teams have currently signed up on the Rocket RacingLeague roster under sponsorship from DKNY Men, a New York City-based men'ssportswear line that also sponsors the Bridenstine Rocket Racing Team led byformer U.S. Navy jet pilot Jim Bridenstine. The league eventually plans onshowcasing NASCAR-styleracing in the sky as a new series of sporting events.

The Reno Air Races, set for Sept. 10-14 in Reno, Nev.,could see the first public event pitting rocket racer against rocket racer, butonly if the Federal Aviation Administration grants its approval of theArmadillo Aerospace engine by then.

Armadillo Aerospace conducted about 75 test burns priorto the latest flight tests, and plans to schedule more test flights with theRocket Racing League in the coming weeks.

"Now we?re aiming to build at least five moreengines for the Rocket Racing League and continue our mission of providing asystem that will not only be cost effective and robust for the teams involved,but safe for the pilots and the thousands of fans in attendance at RocketRacing League events,? said John Carmack, President of Armadillo Aerospace.

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