Burt Rutan, byname of Elbert Leander Rutan, (born June 17, 1943, Portland, Oregon, U.S.), American plane and spacecraft designer who was maybe greatest identified for SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 grew to become the primary personal crewed spacecraft.

Rutan was raised in Dinuba, California, the place he and his elder brother, Dick, developed a robust curiosity in flight at an early age. Rutan took flying classes as a youngster and flew solo at age 16. He attended California State Polytechnic College (now University) and in 1965 acquired a level in aeronautical engineering. He additionally studied on the Space Technology Institute on the California Institute of Technology and the Aerospace Research Pilot’s School at Edwards Air Force Base, the place he labored (1965–72) for the United States Air Force as a civilian take a look at venture engineer.

After two years as director of the take a look at centre at Bede Aircraft Co. in Newton, Kansas, Rutan returned to California in 1974 and based Rutan Aircraft Factory, which constructed gentle plane. Rutan quickly gained acclaim amongst aviation buffs for designing airplanes that may very well be constructed at house, such because the light-weight VariEze. His designs had been characterised by their uncommon look and using high-tech supplies reminiscent of fibreglass and plastics. Rutan’s fame unfold worldwide in 1986 when his plane Voyager, piloted by his brother and American pilot Jeana Yeager, made the primary unrefueled flight all over the world.

In 1982 Rutan launched a second firmScaled Composites, which created analysis planeSpaceShipOne was developed at Scaled Composites, with important monetary backing from billionaire Paul Allen, cofounder of Microsoft Corporation. The craft set a brand new civilian altitude document of 64 km (40 miles) in May 2004. Then, in October 2004, Rutan received the $10 million Ansari X Prize by sending SpaceShipOne into suborbital flight—100 km (62 miles) above Earth—twice in a two-week interval. For his efforts Rutan acquired the National Academy of Sciences Award in Aeronautical Engineering in 2005. In that very same yr Virgin Galactic, a subsidiary of Virgin Atlantic Airways, introduced plans to license the SpaceShipOne expertise and start producing industrial spacecraft that might carry paying clients. A assured Rutan predicted that no less than 50,000 folks would join industrial journeys to area within the enterprise’s first dozen years. In 2009 Virgin Galactic unveiled SpaceShipTwo, a craft designed to make suborbital vacationer flights starting in 2012; nevertheless, that date was subsequently pushed again.

Another Rutan-designed plane, the GlobalFlyer, piloted by American businessman Steve Fossett, made the primary solo unrefueled flight all over the world in 2005. In 2006 the GlobalFlyer, once more piloted by Fossett, made the longest airplane flight, protecting a document 42,469.5 km (26,389.3 miles).

Rutan retired from Scaled Composites in 2011. At the time greater than 30 of his aerospace designs had been constructed and examined. The recipient of quite a few honours, he was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame (1988) and the National Aviation Hall of Fame (1995).


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