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Former Columbia space shuttle commander colonel Rick Searfoss (pictured) has been appointed chief pilot by the Rocket Racing League and will fly the EZ-Rocket X-Racer prototype at its inaugural launch on 9 October in New Mexico.
The X-Racers will take off from a runway in a staggered start and fly a course of long straights, 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. Pilots will use state-of-the-art GPS technology to ensure minimal chances of physical contact between the racers.
The X-Racer aircraft run on a mix of liquid oxygen and kerosene and will race round a virtual two-mile long Grand Prix-style 3D track 1,500m up in the sky. Diamandis wants a fleet of 10 X-Racers ready by 2007.