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Go rocket racers, go

06/10/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Entertainment and sports took a step into the future today with the launch of the Rocket Racing League. Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, founder of the X PRIZE, which inaugurated the age of personal spaceflight, introduced the RRL as an aerospace entertainment organization that combines the competition of racing with the excitement of rocketry.

"The Rocket Racing League will inspire people of all ages to once again look up into the sky to find inspiration and excitement," said Dr. Diamandis, Chairman and Co-founder of the Rocket Racing League. "New aerospace technologies coupled with the spirit of competition will not only extend the boundaries of entertainment, but continue the public's appetite for space ignited a year ago when the Ansari X PRIZE was awarded."

Dr. Diamandis was joined by Granger Whitelaw, Co-Founder and President of the RRL. "The success of the Rocket Racing League is limited only by the excitement of the public," noted Mr. Whitelaw. "Given the millions of fans who enjoy race car driving, and the wider audience enthralled with humanity's next step into space, we are confident Rocket Racing will become a mainstream event in the decade to come."

Similar to auto racing organizations, the RRL will organize, host and run competitions across the United States, with the finals taking place each year at the X PRIZE Cup in New Mexico. The league also plans to produce nationwide tours of its rocket planes and pilots to answer the public's demand for high-excitement entertainment. A video game based on the RRL is slated to launch in late 2007.

"The FAA salutes the Rocket Racing League on its mission to usher in a new era in aerospace entertainment," said Patricia Smith, Associate Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. "We look forward to working with the RRL to secure all the necessary licenses and permits to ensure safe and exciting events for the public."

Rocket races will operate much like auto races, with the exception that the "track" is up in the sky. Courses are expected to be approximately two miles long, one mile wide, and about 5,000 feet high, running perpendicularly to spectators. The rocket planes, called X-Racers, will take off from a runway both in a staggered fashion and side-by side and fly a course based on the design of a Grand Prix competition, with long straight-aways, vertical ascents, and deep banks. Each pilot will follow his or her own virtual "tunnel" or "track" of space through which to fly, safely separated from their competitors by a few hundred feet.

Highly skilled X-Racer pilots will employ state-of-the-art differential GPS technology to ensure minimal chances of physical contact between the racers.

Upon take-off, onlookers will easily follow the race as the rocket planes remain in view and sport 20-foot rocket plumes. Fans can also track their favorite pilots' progress via large screen televisions and hand-held GPS tracking devices using WiFi to stream video of the cockpit, live "on-track" shots, "side by side" views and wing angle views.

Fans at home will be treated to a three-dimensional course where the "tracks" pilots are following can be seen. Special effects for lap completions, barrier violations and penalties will also be a part of the show.

The RRL plans to host a variety of races as it grows and each race will result in points awarded to its top finishers and qualifier. Timed qualifying rounds can be incorporated into the races, comparable to the 24-hour Le Mans race.

The RRL has contracted with XCOR Aerospace of Mojave California to design and build the first generation of X-Racers. The X-Racers are based on the design of XCOR's EZ-Rocket. Next generation vehicles will be using an airframe provided by Velocity of Sebastian, Florida.

Colonel Rock Searfoss (ret.), former commander of the space shuttle Columbia, and three-time astronaut, was appointed Chief Pilot by the RRL and will fly the EZ-Rocket X-Racer(tm) prototype in its inaugural launch on October 9 at the X PRIZE Cup in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The Rocket Racing League is an aerospace entertainment organization which combines the competition of racing with the excitement of rocketry. The RRL is dedicated to providing safe and thrilling experiences for families through live events, television broadcasts and interactive technologies.

Co-founded by Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, founder of the X PRIZE, and Mr. Granger Whitelaw, two-time Indianapolis 500 champion team partner, the league's mission is to serve as a technology accelerator in the areas of airframe, propulsion and spacecraft design, and reach for the future to inspire the next generation of spaceflight enthusiasts.

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