XCOR Aerospace announced yesterday that its EZ-Rocket flew twice in one day. The flights were in preparation for the first air show flight of the EZ-Rocket at EAA AirVenture 2002 in Oshkosh, WI later this month. In addition to flying twice in one day, the EZ-Rocket performed two mid-flight engine restarts during each flight, another first for the EZ-Rocket.
The plane took off at 8:00 AM and performed a series of steep climbs while making multiple passes over the Mojave Airport. After the morning flight the EZ-Rocket was brought back to the hanger for refueling.
"We were able to reload propellants quickly by cryogenically chilling our helium that is used to pressurize the propellant tanks," said XCOR Rocket Engineer Doug Jones.
"Typically, as we load helium, its temperature rises through compression heating. Chilling the helium during loading negates this heating and allows us to get a full load onto the EZ-Rocket quickly."
At 1:15 PM the EZ-Rocket was rolled back out to the runway and made its second flight of the day with Dick Rutan at the controls. The EZ-Rocket performed another series of tight turns, steep climbs, and a wingover maneuver.
"It was a zero-defects flight," said test pilot Dick Rutan. "It's quite pleasant to fly with that much power. It reminded me of my days in the military flying high performance jet fighters with afterburners. I am confident we'll be able to put on a great show at Oshkosh."
"To make a business out of flying reusable rocket-powered vehicles, you need to fly more than once a day, not just every couple of weeks," said XCOR Chief Engineer Dan Delong.
"The EZ-Rocket is a test bed for many things including rapid turn around of rocket-powered vehicles. With today's flights we've taken another major step by proving that we can fly multiple times in a day with a small ground crew."
XCOR's test pilot, Dick Rutan, Lt. Col. USAF Ret., will be inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame this summer. 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. XCOR will demonstrate the EZ-Rocket during AirVenture 2002 in Oshkosh, WI.
EAA AirVenture 2002 - Oshkosh, WI
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DARPA Team Fire Up Scramjet Engine For Future Cruise Missile
Hampton - Jul 11, 2002
In a wind tunnel in Hampton, Virginia , on the 30th of May this year, a new kind of cruise missile engine, called a scramjet, was fired up. Just like any other cruise missile engine, it used conventional liquid hydrocarbon fuel, but this one was a mite different. In simulated hypersonic conditions, this engine reached MACH 6.5 speeds at 90,000 feet altitude.
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