Scaled Composites

From SpaceWiki

Jump to: navigation, search
SpaceShipTwo Cartoon.png

Scaled Composites, or Scaled for short, is the new name for the Rutan Aircraft Factory, founded by Burt Rutan in 1974. Right from the start, the RAF (no relation to the other RAF) built aicraft that look like they belong in a science fiction movie. One of these futuristic designs, built with revolutionary carbon-fiber composite materials rather than metal, was actually referred to as a Starship.

In 1982, around the time they changed the name to Scaled, the company was working on the first vehicle to fly around the world without stopping or refueling, the Voyager (no relation to these or this). It flew in 1986, around the same time as the Beechcraft Starship's first flight, at which point Scaled was a subsidiary of Beech Aircraft. It's since been sold back to Mr. Rutan, then to Wyman-Gordon, back to Rutan again, and finally to Northrop Grumman in 2007.

But of course that summary skips the most important date in the company's history, June 21, 2004, when its rocket-plane SpaceShipOne completed the first privately-funded manned spaceflight and won the Ansari X Prize. It has now joined the Voyager in the National Air and Space Museum, but the project isn't history yet, since Scaled continued developing the design and is now flight-testing SpaceShipTwo, in collaboration with Virgin Galactic. For updates on the very latest status of flight testing, see the SS2 Test Summaries page from Scaled, and the tweets from mojavewatcher.

Planned as the vehicle for a space tourism venture, SpaceShipTwo will probably be the only commercial craft flying out of New Mexico's Spaceport America when it first opens. If you happen to have $200,000 lying around, you can get on the waiting list for a suborbital flight today--but be prepared to wait in line for a year or two for those 4-6 minutes of weightless wonder.

Personal tools