a compendium of tech stuff

Jun 19, 2012

On 12:10 PM by Lalith Varun   No comments


Everyone gets fascinated when it comes to Space, many of us couldn't afford to go to into space because it is just that expensive. But what if a commercial, cost effective spacecraft can take off from the ground on its own, travel into space and return? Well, this is exactly what XCOR Aerospace has managed to do with its EZ-Rocket. It is the first rocket plane to be built and flown by a private organization. It is modified from Burt Rutan's Long-EZ home-built fixed wing, canard aircraft manufactured by Rutan's Aircraft Factory. It has good gliding characteristics which makes it ideal for a rocket plane.



The four cylinder air cooled, piston aircraft engine Lycoming O-320 with constant speed propeller of the Long-EZ is replaced by a pair of 400 lbf thrust, pressure fed regeneratively cooled, non throttle-able, restart-able liquid fueled rocket engines. A pressurized fuel tank filled with isopropyl alcohol and two Styrofoam insulated aluminium tanks that hold liquid oxygen are placed at the bottom and top of the plane respectively.


Thrust :-                         800 lbf (both engines together)
Take-off roll :-               1650 ft (500 m) in 20 seconds
Max. climb rate :-          10000 ft/min (52 m/s)
Max. altitude attained :- 11500 ft
Never exceed speed :-  195 knots
Sound level :-                128 dB at 10 meters


Just like any other plane, the XCOR EZ-Rocket has a lot of safety features installed for the safety of the pilot. The canopy is quick to open and the pilot has a parachute in case of emergency exit. The engine has its own Kevlar blast shield. An ultraviolet fire sensor illuminates a light on the instrument panel in the event of engine fire. The plane is equipped with large bottles of pressurized helium which are used as fire extinguishers when engine catches fire. The pilot can manually shut off both fuel and oxidizer supply to the engines if a fire is detected or engine fails to shut down. A burn through sensor signals the pilot when the fuel tank is empty.

After 26 successful flights of the EZ-Rocket, XCOR Aerospace is now focusing on the development of rocket racers and a suborbital spacecraft Xerus for space tourism and to launch micro satellites.


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