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Photos: Rocket-propelled 'F1' racing jets

Grand Prix-style racing 1,500m in the sky
By Andy McCue, Contributor on
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1 of 6 Andy McCue/ZDNET

Grand Prix-style racing 1,500m in the sky

Plans for rocket-propelled aircraft to race each other round a 3D racecourse in the sky have been launched by Peter Diamandis, the man behind the $10m X-Prize for suborbital space travel.

This artist's impression shows how the races will look.

All images/photos courtesy of Rocket Racing League

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2 of 6 Andy McCue/ZDNET

The Rocket Racing League plans to have a debut exhibition race at the X-Prize Cup event in September 2006, in New Mexico. In the following six months, races at an additional two air shows and two auto race events are planned followed by a championship event in New Mexico at the X-Prize Cup 2007.

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3 of 6 Andy McCue/ZDNET
Spectators on the ground will be able to follow the race from the planes' 20-foot rocket plumes. They will also be able to watch their favourite pilot using Wi-Fi-enabled, handheld GPS tracking devices, which will receive streamed video of the cockpit and live racing action.

Fans at home will also be able to see the pilot's course on their TV or computer.

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4 of 6 Andy McCue/ZDNET

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.

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5 of 6 Andy McCue/ZDNET

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.

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6 of 6 Andy McCue/ZDNET

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.

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