Rocket Racing League: Nascar in the sky

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Fifteen months after disseminating hints at TEDGLOBAL in Oxford, XPrize‘s Peter Diamandis and his posse are getting ready to annouce their plans for the first Rocket Racing League (RRL) races.

The RRL is a racing competition akin to Nascar, with cars replaced by rocket-powered aircrafts called X-Racers that will zip around a virtual track in the sky at speeds of more than 300 miles per hour (the image is an artist’s rendering). Five miles around, the three-dimensional track would exist only on the pilot’s head-mounted displays (which are called Augmented Reality System) and on the spectators’ GPS devices. The pilots would race several laps
before landing for refueling (pit-stop) and then taking off again. The
competition may be made more difficult by obstacles such as inflatable
pylons or balloons – or lights and lasers during nighttime races.

The first official RRL race will take place in 2007, at a date and location that will be disclosed next week during the XPrize Cup,
a large space fair and exposition held in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where
the League is headquartered. "We expect up to 8 pilots to participate,
all flying at first the same model of X-Racer", says Mike D’Angelo, the
VP of Technology for the RRL.

In Las Cruces the Mark-1 X-Racer will be on display – that’s the
development prototype of the rocket craft. Besides the competition and
the fun (and the business – revenue is projected
at US$150 million a year by 2010), Diamandis and co-founder Granger
Whitelaw expect the RRL to act as an accelerator of technology
developments in the areas of propulsion and spacecraft design.

(Cross-posted on LunchOverIP)