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XCOR EZ-Rocket

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XCOR EZ-Rocket

EZ-Rocket one week after its first flight
Cockpit. Engine on-off switches on left side panel are placarded "FWD - LOUD; BACK - QUIET"

The XCOR EZ-Rocket is a test platform for the XCOR rocket propulsion system. The airplane is a modified Rutan Long-EZ, with the propeller replaced by first one, then later a pair of pressure-fed regeneratively cooled liquid-fuelled rocket engines and an underslung fuel tank. The engines are restartable in flight, and are contained within Kevlar armor shielding. The EZ-Rocket is registered as an experimental aircraft.

EZ-Rocket was the first privately built and flown rocket-powered airplane, making its maiden flight in 2001.[1]

Contents

  • Development and history 1
  • Milestones and records 2
  • Derivatives 3
  • Specifications 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Development and history

The first flight took place on July 21, 2001, flown by test pilot Dick Rutan.

On a typical flight, the EZ-Rocket takes off on rockets, gains altitude for a minute or so, then switches off the rockets and glides to a deadstick landing.

The vehicle actually flies better during deadstick glide landings than a Long-EZ due to lack of drag from a stationary pusher propeller — the vehicle's aerodynamics are cleaner in spite of its belly tank. It is also lighter due to the lack of a piston engine (the rocket propulsion system is significantly lighter), so enjoys significantly lower wing loading than a stock Long-EZ.

XCOR registered it as a conventional aircraft, rather than a suborbital, because the vehicle is incapable of reaching the 100 km Kármán line altitude.

Milestones and records

EZ-Rocket, flown by Dick Rutan, touches down at California City, California on December 3, 2005, setting a point-to-point distance record for rocket-powered, ground-launched aircraft.
  • October 8, 2000 - First firing of an XCOR Aerospace LOX-powered rocket engine.[2]
  • July 21, 2001 - First flight, flown by Dick Rutan (single-engine configuration).[2]
  • October 6, 2001 - First flight in twin-engine configuration.[2]
  • July 24, 2002 - First touch-and-go of a rocket-powered aircraft (world record).[2]
  • December 3, 2005 - Set the point-to-point distance record for a ground-launched, rocket-powered aircraft, flying 16 km from Mojave to California City in just under ten minutes, flown by Dick Rutan.[3][4] Also first official delivery of U.S. Mail by a rocket-powered aircraft.[3] In recognition of this achievement, the FAI awarded Rutan the 2005 Louis Blériot Medal.[5]
  • December 15, 2005 - First arrival of a rocket-powered aircraft at the Mojave Spaceport on a flight originating at another airport, return flight from California City, piloted by Rick Searfoss.[3]
  • 2008: The XCOR EZ-Rocket X-Racer prototype rocketplane flew at the 2008 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh air show.[6]

Derivatives

The Rocket Racing League aircraft currently in development, the Mark-III X-racer, is a design descendant of the EZ-Rocket aircraft. Although XCOR is not the developer of the rocket engine for the Mark-III, XCOR did develop the rocket engine for the Mark-I X-Racer, the first of the X-Racers to use a single rocket engine on a Velocity SE basic airframe, and the first X-Racer to utilize kerosene instead of isopropyl alcohol fuel. XCOR used both design and operational experience from the EZ-Rocket in the Mark-I rocket aircraft design.

Specifications

Twin rocket engines
Dick Rutan standing next to the engines of the EZ-Rocket
  • Two XR-4A3 400 pounds-force (1.8 kN) thrust rocket engines (non throttleable, restartable in flight)[7]
  • 20 sec 500 m takeoff roll
  • Vne = 195 kt
  • climb rate = 52 m/s (10,000 ft/min)
  • maximum altitude = 10,000 ft
  • Fuel : isopropyl alcohol and liquid oxygen
  • Chamber pressure : ~ 350 psi
  • specific impulse : 250 to 270 seconds
  • Noise: 128 dB at 10 meters[8]

See also

References

  1. ^ Knapp, Alex (2014-06-18). "Bootstrapping To The Stars". Forbes. Retrieved 2014-06-19. 
  2. ^ a b c d "First Flights - XCOR Aerospace". Mojave Virtual Museum. Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
  3. ^ a b c Deaver, Bill (2005-12-22). "XCOR EZ-Rocket makes more history at CalCity". Mojave Desert News. 
  4. ^ FAI Records
  5. ^ List of Blériot medals awarded to Dick Rutan
  6. ^ XCOR X-Racer, by Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today, 2009-08-06, accessed 2010-04-26.
  7. ^ "LOX-Alcohol Rocket Engine". www.xcor.com. XCOR Aerospace, Inc. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  8. ^ [2]

External links

  • The EZ-Rocket (XCOR)
  • howstuffworks: How the EZ-Rocket Works
  • Rocket Racing League
  • XCOR First Flights from Mojave Virtual Museum
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