Burt Rutan

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Biographical Information

Elbert Leander "Burt" Rutan (born June 17, 1943) is an American aerospace engineer noted for his originality in designing light, strong, unusual-looking, energy-efficient aircraft. He designed the record-breaking Voyager, which was the first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling, and the sub-orbital spaceplane SpaceShipOne, which won the Ansari X-Prize in 2004 for becoming the first privately funded spacecraft to enter the realm of space twice within a two-week period. He has five aircraft on display in the National Air and Space Museum: SpaceShipOne, the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, Voyager, Quickie, and the VariEze. wiki

"Financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, SpaceShipOne won the $10 million Ansari X-Prize, the competition created to spur the development of affordable space tourism...

"Inspired by the success of SpaceShipOne, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson started Virgin Galactic and engaged SCALED Composites (the company Rutan founded in 1982) to develop and produce a line of commercial spaceships to fly the public (SpaceShipTwo). In 20 years, Rutan predicts, "space tourism will be a multibillion-dollar business."

"In 2012 Paul Allen announced Stratolaunch Systems with Rutan as a board member. SCALED Composites is now building what will be the world's largest airplane to serve as the carrier ship for this revolutionary orbital space launch system.

"Rutan designed the legendary Voyager, the first aircraft to circle the world non-stop, without refueling. He also developed the GM Ultralite, an all-composite 100 mpg show car for General Motors, and the Proteus "affordable U-2" aircraft. His Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer broke the Voyager’s record time, becoming the first non-stop, solo flight around the world.... Rutan retired on March 31, 2011 and now lives in North Idaho." [1]


Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. Burt Rutan Bio, organizational web page, accessed July 22, 2013.