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EZ-Rocket one week after its first flight

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

Development and history

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 'dead stick' landing.

The vehicle actually flies better during 'dead stick'/glide landings than a Long-EZ due to lack of drag from a stationary pusher prop — 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. The vehicle doesn't meet the current definition of suborbital (but the vehicle pre-dated the definition anyway.)

Milestones and records

  • October 8, 2000 - First firing of an XCOR Aerospace LOX-powered rocket engine.
  • July 21, 2001 - First flight, flown by Dick Rutan (single-engine configuration).
  • October 6, 2001 - First flight in twin-engine configuration.
  • July 24, 2002 - First touch-and-go of a rocket powered aircraft (world record).
  • December 3, 2005 - Set the point-to-point distance record for a ground-launched, rocket-powered aircraft, flying 16 km from Mojavemarker to California Citymarker in just under 10 minutes, flown by Dick Rutan). Also first official delivery of U.S. Mail by a rocket-powered aircraft. In recognition of this achievement, the FAI awarded Rutan the 2005 Louis Blériot Medal.
  • 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).


The Rocket Racing League aircraft in development is a design descendant of the EZ-Rocket aircraft. The RRL aircraft will use a Velocity SE as the basic airframe, with new rocket engines burning kerosene instead of isopropyl alcohol fuel. XCOR has used both design and operational experience from the EZ-Rocket in the RRL rocket aircraft design.


Twin rocket engines
  • Two 400 lbf (1.8 kN) thrust rocket engines (non throttleable, restartable in flight)
  • 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

See also


  1. FAI Records
  2. List of Blériot medals awarded to Dick Rutan
  3. [1]

External links

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