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The first race is scheduled for September 2006. Competitions will then be held throughout the United States at air shows and auto races with pilots vying for the X Prize Cup, which will awarded at a final race, in New Mexico in 2007.
Col. Rick Searfoss, former space shuttle commander and three-time astronaut, will serve as the chief pilot of the Rocket Racing League. He will fly the EZ-Rocket X-Racer prototype Oct. 9, 2005, at the X Prize Cup in Las Cruces, N.M.
Here's a look at the engine in the EZ-Rocket X-Racer prototype. X-Racers will shoot a 20-foot rocket plume to make themselves more visible to spectators.
A look at the X-Racer prototype in flight. Pilots will fly a course based on Grand Prix automobile racing, except it will feature long straightaways, vertical ascents and deep banks.
Each pilot will have a virtual "tunnel," or space track, to follow, and will use GPS navigation systems to keep a few hundred feet away from other planes.
The rear view of the X-Racer.
X-Racers will take off either in a staggered formation or side by side.
The Rocket Racing Association hopes for heated competition, which fans can track on large-screen televisions and handheld GPS tracking devices. Spectators will receive streaming video of the cockpit, side-by-side views and wing-angle views.
The founders have modeled rocket racing after auto racing. Wings could be used to sell advertising space similar to the way Nascar vehicles are used to market sponsors' products. The first Rocket Racing League video game is scheduled for release in 2007.
Here's an artist's concept of what an X-Racer would look like.
Colorful X-Racers should be easy to spot.
If the league becomes a success, X-Racer drawings will appear in countless notebook margins during boring lectures.