XCOR EZ-Rocket

The XCOR EZ-Rocket is a test platform for the XCOR rocket propulsion system. The airplane 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 armor shielding for safety reasons. The EZ-Rocket is registered as an experimental aircraft.

Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 2001

EZ-Rocket was the first privately built and flown rocket-powered airplane, making its maiden flight in 2001.

The 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 deadstick landing.

The vehicle actually flies better during deadstick glide landings than a Long-EZ due to lack of drag from a stationary pusher propeller — 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, because the vehicle does not reach the 100 km Kármán line altitude.

  • 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

End notes