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Mon, Dec 05, 2005

XCOR's EZ-Rocket Completes Successful Demonstration Flight

Next Comes The Mark I X-Racer

The EZ-Rocket successfully completed its first point-to-point flight Saturday, departing from the Mojave, CA Spaceport and gliding to a touchdown at an airport in California City nine minutes later.

The rocket plane, piloted by Dick Rutan (brother of Burt, and co-pilot of the Voyager around-the-world flight in 1986), is a modified Long-EZ homebuilt powered by two 400-lb. thrust rocket engines. The engines are fueled by LOX and isopropyl alcohol.

In addition to being a record-setting flight (officials from the National Aeronautic Association witnessed the event, as did representatives from the FAA's commercial space transportation office) the flight was also, in essence, a cargo run: onboard the EZ-Rocket were four pouches of mail, a bill (and its accompanying check payment) and letters from around the world.

The EZ-Rocket -- which first flew in 2002, but has seen a resurgence of interest following the announcement of the formation of the Rocket Racing League, for which ANN's own Jim Campbell is one of the first pilots -- is able to stop and restart its engines in midflight, as well as perform rocket-powered touch-and-goes on a runway.

According to media reports, XCOR will now retire the EZ-Rocket -- focusing on development work on the Mk. I racers to be flown by the Rocket Racing League, as well as several other commercial space projects.

FMI: www.xcor.com, www.RocketRacingLeague.com

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