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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.
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.