XCOR Aerospace announced today that its rocket engine test-bed, the XCOR EZ-Rocket, flew its eleventh test flight today at the Mojave Airport in Mojave, CA. A small electrical problem after take-off ended the planned flight prematurely.
The EZ-Rocket took off at 8:00 am PDT. As XCOR test pilot Dick Rutan flew over the Mojave airport he commanded both engines to shut off in preparation for further maneuvers. Engine number two did not shut down. After letting the engine burn for another four seconds to line up for a landing, Rutan used the redundant manual shut off valve in the cockpit to turn off the engine.
"When the engine didn't shut down, I looked at where I was and decided to let it run for a few more seconds - to be sure I could make it back for a dead stick landing," he said.
Rutan then dumped the remaining liquid oxygen, using the jettison capability built in to the EZ-Rocket for that purpose. The 11th flight of the EZ-Rocket lasted two minutes and 24 seconds.
"We anticipated this scenario and designed backup features in to the aircraft to handle it. This is an example of why we choose a 'fail operational' engine control philosophy," said Jeff Greason, XCOR's CEO.
"If you have an electrical problem, you don't want to surprise the pilot by unexpectedly causing him to lose engine thrust. With our approach, an electrical problem leaves the engine running, and the pilot has a redundant manual valve to shut the engine down. While we did not achieve our planned test objectives today, I am very happy with the way the aircraft and pilot performed."
XCOR's test pilot, is Dick Rutan, Lt. Col. USAF Ret. Rutan is a decorated combat pilot and is world renowned for the non-stop, round the world Voyager flight.
The EZ-Rocket is America's first privately built, liquid fueled, rocket powered airplane and has set major milestones demonstrating routine operations of a rocket-powered vehicle.
EZ-Rocket at AirVenture 2002 - Oshkosh, WI.
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Touch and Go For EZ-Rocket In Landing Test
Mojave - June 25, 2002
XCOR Aerospace said Tuesday that its rocket engine test-bed, the XCOR EZ-Rocket, performed a "touch-and-go" maneuver, yesterday, Monday, June 24, at their test facility at the Mojave Airport in Mojave, CA. The "touch-and-go" maneuver was the first time ever for a rocket-powered airplane The tenth flight of the EZ-Rocket lasted seven minutes 47 seconds and reached an altitude of 5,850 ft.
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