Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Burt Rutan Steps Down as President of Scaled

Burt Rutan, the President of Scaled Compoites and designer of SpaceShipOne has announced that he is stepping down in favor of a more creative role as Chief Technology Officer.

Burt Rutan has been integral to the operations of Scaled Composites, and to the design of many aircraft and two spacecraft, SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo. In particular, it was his middle-of-the-night revelation that led to the ingenious design of the crafts' "feather" system that allows them to re-enter Earth's atmosphere without the use of a heat shield.

Burt Rutan has been suffering from heart problems recently, which may have influenced the decision, but he prefers to characterize the move as part of some changes in the structure of the company that will allow him to take a more creative role. I personally take this as good news, since the man is a freaking genius.

Doug Shane, previously Vice-President of Scaled, will be taking the role of President and running day-to-day operations of the company.

I'm looking forward to what Scaled has to offer in the future. It is my personal belief that Rutan's "feather" system will find itself with a key role in the future of spaceflight. It operates by lifting the wings of a spacecraft into a position that gives the entire craft an enormous amount of drag in the upper atmosphere, allowing it to slow down enough to avoid most of the intense heat of conventional atmospheric re-entry. I would not be surprised if this, or similar systems, were one day used in the exploration of other worlds.

Progress: 3.73%  Flight Time: 0:05:35

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