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Burt Rutan
Burt Rutan
Aerospace Legend
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Burt Rutan
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Aerospace entrepreneur and Virgin Galactic spacecraft designer Burt Rutan was described by Newsweek as “the man responsible for more innovations in modern aviation than any living engineer.” A bold visionary with a passion for the advancement of technology, he founded the aerospace research firm Scaled Composites and was named one of “the world’s 100 most influential people” by TIME.

Rutan designed the legendary Voyager, the first aircraft to circle the world nonstop without refueling. He also created SpaceShipOne, the world’s first privately funded spacecraft, which won the $10 million Ansari X Prize, offered in an effort to spur the development of affordable space tourism.

In a joint venture with Virgin’s Richard Branson, Rutan formed “The Spaceship Company” to manufacture and market spaceships for the new commercial space-flight industry. He retired from Scaled Composites as Chief Technical Officer in 2011, and now assumes the title of founder and Chairman Emeritus. 

Rutan is currently working  on two projects: the Stratolaunch — part airplane, part spaceship — with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and the SkiGull, an amphibious aircraft that runs on the same gas we use for cars and boats.

In 2004 The Spaceship Company launched Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline. So far Virgin Galactic has contracted five SpaceShipTwo tourist spacecrafts and two White Knight Two motherships to the paying public, along with suborbital to provide sub-orbital spaceflight space science missions and orbital launches of small satellites.

In business, Rutan believes that the best ideas come from the collaborative efforts of small, closely-knit project teams and an environment not limited by adversity to risk. He inspires audiences with his vision on creativity, innovation and managers’ tasks to motivate a creative team.

Rutan was profiled by 60 Minutes and featured on the covers of both LIFE and TIME. Author Dan Linehan chronicled Rutan's groundbreaking ideas and designs up to present  in his 2011 book, Burt Rutan's Race To Space: The Magician of Mojave and His Flying Innovations. Rutan was also the subject of Daniel Alef's Titans of Fortune e-book biography, Burt Rutan: Aeronautical and Space Legend

Full Bio >
  • The SpaceShipOne Story
  • TED Talk: Burt Rutan sees the future of space
  • "Looking Up, Way Up! The Burt Rutan Story" (2015)
  • The Future of Space (2015)
  • Burt Rutan: Honoring a Legend (2016)
  • 60 Minutes: The New Space Race
  • World Affairs Council speech: Innovation and the Race for Space (2012)
  • Burt Rutan talks to Big Think: When it Comes to Aircraft, Simplicity Rules (2012)
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Speaking Topics
Inspiration for Innovation and the New Race for Space

This presentation identifies and describes the environment needed to promote creativity and allow breakthroughs and offers a theory to define why our best innovators were successful. Rutan also discusses the SpaceShipOne research program and how its results have enabled the beginnings of a new industry that will provide the public access to flight out of the earth’s atmosphere.

Read More >
• SpaceShipOne: A New Era in Commercial Space Travel
Breakthroughs: The Product of Innovators
Small Team, Giant Challenge: How Scaled Composites Won the X Prize
Managing Creative People
Special Programs: Available for Half- and Full-Day Seminars
Books & Other Works
  • Burt Rutan: Aeronautical and Space Legend
  • Burt Rutan's Race to Space: The Magician of Mojave and His Flying Innovations
  • LIFE Cover Story
  • Inc. Magazine Cover Story
  • TIME Magazine Cover Story
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“Burt Rutan was exceptional. He is so approachable and has such great stories; he really connected with our audience. He has instant credibility with those who know him and gains even more as he presents and talks. I had several guests approach him after his speech and ask for a picture and just wanted to shake his hand. We work with a very high caliber client set and they are not easily impressed so to have them asking for his autograph, his picture, and being in awe is really not easy to do. Burt delivered on all fronts. Moreover, we had a very rigorous schedule yesterday that continued to adjust and he was so accommodating and such a trooper! He went non-stop from the morning until the mid-evening — with unbelievable energy and engagement.”
“Burt Rutan was fabulous and I am continuing to receive compliments about his presentation.”
World Affairs Council of Jacksonville
“The two events at Guidant could not have gone better. Mr. Rutan's presentation was truly captivating at both sites, and his message about enabling and nurturing innovation was right on the mark. I continue to get positive feedback about the event and about his presentation in particular.”
Guidant Corporation
“Burt was awesome, inspiring, motivating, humorous and irreverent. He even stayed longer and did a quick tour of our machine design and pilot plant. I felt like I was walking the building with a head of state or rock star. What a brilliant guy with a great, wonderful personality.”
General Mills
“You were the perfect keynote speaker! You set the tone for technical vitality and intellectual curiosity which were our goals for the program. We believe that your outstanding success was due to your combination of entertaining the audience and delivering a message with substance and depth.”
University of North Carolina
“Brilliant…Your speech has truly inspired us and I am sure that in the future, innovation will be a constant topic at UBS.”
“We were very pleased with the turn out on both events and Burt Rutan was exceptional. We are in awe by what Burt has accomplished in his life and pleased that he has shared his creative process with our guests and students.”
TELUS World of Science - Edmonton
“Everyone was spellbound by his presentation.”
Russell Reynolds Associates
“As usual, Burt was the hit of the conference. There were nearly 2,000 audience members who gave him a standing ovation, and hundreds in line afterwards for photos and autographs. Fantastic!”
BEA Systems
“The audience was thrilled. The keynote was outstanding.”
“Thank you for your fascinating and inspiring presentation at our Executive Exchange event. While many of us had seen the news stories of SpaceShipOne last year, it was exciting and breathtaking to hear from you, as the entrepreneurial spirit driving it. We appreciated your candor and humor, and I think we could have asked questions all day long.”
CSC Consulting
“We all were inspired with you and your vision of commercial space flight. Most of us are engineers. We were awed with your work and the details you shared with us. Many still talk about your presentation.”
Frito Lay, Inc
“You proved that one can do anything one sets out to do. We also enjoyed your discussion of the other projects that your company has undertaken. I received many praises on your presentation from the members and NASA employees that were in attendance.”
NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration
“Drew over 1500 people as part of our Parent's Day program. His multi-media approach kept the audience attentive throughout the hour and a half presentation. On a more personal level, Mr. Rutan was easy to work with and was very patient with the deluge of questions put to him by our students. There were a number of students that appreciated Mr. Rutan's personal attention and are quite inspire to follow in his footsteps.”
Worchester Polytechnic Institute
“Not only was your topic timely, but your delivery style and personality added greatly to the audience's enjoyment. I can't remember the last time a group of engineers gave someone a standing ovation. The fact that you got one in each of your three presentations is a tribute of what over 1400 people in our technical community thought about you and your presentation. Thanks again for your inspirational message. I feel confident our technical community's contribution will be enhanced by their understanding of what you have done...."with a heart that is pure!”
General Electric
“An outstanding choice for our Founder's Day address at Florida Southern College. He was well received by some 1500 students and faculty at a formal convocation. His address was most stimulating and I appreciated very much his willingness to engage in conversation with students and faculty following his address. Mr. Rutan was an excellent choice for this occasion.”
Florida Southern College
“Everything went great for Burt Rutan's speech. He is indeed everything that you said he was. His speech was very challenging and thought provoking, and he surely made many of our students think about new paradigms in transportation and communication. He truly has a lot of visionary ideas and it will be interesting to see how many of his prophecies will come to past.”
Tyler Junior College
“Thank you for participating in our spring Policy Advisory Board meeting in Pebble Beach. Your participation helped to make the conference a success and the feedback has been very positive.”
Haas School of Business
“Your contributions were critical in helping communicate our vision-"The Future of Simulation Tools: Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) in the 21st Century to our customers. Your messages, in conjunction with the technology innovation and leadership of ANSYS, Help portray change as a necessary ingredient for future opportunity and success. ...a record number of conference attendees this year have already received tremendous feedback.”
ANSYS in Houston, PA
“Burt was a hit!”
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Peak Performance
Risk Taking
Space Travel
Team Building