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Rocket Racing League To Locate in Las Cruces

By Deborah Baker/
Associated Press
      SANTA FE — The Rocket Racing League, an aerospace entertainment organization, will locate its headquarters in Las Cruces, Gov. Bill Richardson announced Thursday.
    The organization, which is developing low-altitude, rocket-powered aircraft racing, also plans to have facilities at the proposed Southwest Regional Spaceport in Sierra County.
    The Rocket Racing League plans to fly 10 rocket planes in races in cities around the country in 2007, with semi-finals at the Reno Air Show in Nevada and finals in New Mexico in conjunction with the X Prize Cup competition.
    The rocket planes — called X-Racers — would reach speeds of up to 300 miles an hour on a virtual "racetrack,'' following a course that is one mile high, two miles long and a half-mile across.
    The virtual track would be displayed over camera views, so that television viewers at home — or spectators on the ground watching on giant screens — could follow the progress of each rocket plane. Video games also would be developed.
    Richardson referred to it as "NASCAR in the sky.''
    The Rocket Racing League was founded by Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize, and Granger Whitelaw, a former Indy Racing League team co-owner.
    Its 50,000-square-foot headquarters building will be located on 10 acres of land donated by the city of Las Cruces. The league also would use 10 hangars at the airport.
    New Mexico has become "a national leader for the next generation of space,'' Whitelaw said at a news conference announcing the headquarters project.
    The Richardson administration has asked lawmakers this year to approve part of the funding for a $225 million spaceport that would be used by Virgin Galactic and other companies to launch a space tourism industry.
    The administration, citing a recent study by an aerospace and technology consulting group, said Rocket Racing League spending in the state could be as much as $30 million through 2010. As many as 200 jobs could be created, Richardson said.


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