NSS Says Designs "Have Changed The World Forever"
The National Space
Society (NSS) announced Tuesday famed aircraft and spacecraft
designer Burt Rutan will receive the Heinlein award for lifetime
achievement in aerospace. The award, which is given out every two
years, will be bestowed upon Rutan by CNN correspondent Miles
O'Brien at the Gala dinner of the 27th Annual International Space
Development Conference (ISDC) taking place at the Capital Hilton
Hotel in Washington DC on Friday, May 30, 2008.
Named after the visionary science-fiction author, the Robert A.
Heinlein Memorial Award honors those individuals who have made
significant, lifetime contributions to the creation of a free,
spacefaring civilization. The award is awarded based on a vote of
the entire NSS membership. The 2008 award will be the 12th Heinlein
"With this award, the members of NSS recognize Burt Rutan for
his life's work in advancing the frontiers of air and space," said
NSS Executive Director, George T. Whitesides.
NSS selected Rutan in recognition of the unique contribution
that he has made in designing not just the innovative and re-usable
vehicles: SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo, but just as important, the
creation of aircraft specifically designed to launch spacecraft:
White Knight One and WhiteKnightTwo. These designs point the way to
future high speed air launch systems which could greatly reduce the
cost of launch to orbit.
Elbert Leander "Burt" Rutan was born June 17, 1943 in Estacada,
OR and well-known for his originality in designing light, strong,
unusual-looking, energy-efficient aircraft. He is most famous for
his design of the record-breaking Voyager, which was the first
plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling, and
the sub-orbital space plane SpaceShipOne, which won the $10M Ansari
X Prize in 2004 for becoming the first privately funded spacecraft
to fly to space twice within a two week period.
Rutan displayed an early interest in aircraft design. By the
time he was eight years old he was designing and building model
aircraft. His first solo flight in a full-scale plane was an
Aeronca Champ in 1959, when he was 16. In 1965 he graduated third
in his class from California Polytechnic University with an
aeronautical engineering degree.
From 1965 to 1972 Rutan worked for the US Air Force at Edwards
Air Force Base as a flight test project engineer, working on nine
separate projects including fighter spin tests and the LTV XC-142
VSTOL transport. Shortly after, he became director of the Bede Test
Center for Bede Aircraft, in Newton, KS, a position he held until
1974... when he struck out on his own, with the creation of the
Rutan Aircraft Factory
From a base in the Mojave Desert of California, Rutan designed
and developed prototypes for a number of aircraft, mostly
homebuilt. His first design was the Rutan VariViggen, a two-seat
pusher with a canard in front. The canard was later to become a
standard feature in most Rutan designs. In April 1982, Burt Rutan
founded Scaled Composites, LLC, which has become one of the world's
pre-eminent aircraft design and prototyping facilities. Scaled
Composites is headquartered in Mojave, CA.
Amongst several honors, Rutan previously received the
Presidential Citizens Medal from President Ronald Reagan in
December of 1986 and was named by TIME Magazine one of the "100
most influential people in the world" in April of 2005.
Previous Heinlein Award Winners include General Chuck Yeager),
Capt. James Lovell, Neil Armstrong, Dr. Carl Sagan, Dr. Buzz
Aldrin, Dr. Robert H. Goddard, Gene Roddenberry, Dr. Wernher von
Braun, Dr. Gerard K. O'Neill, Dr. Robert Zubrin, and Sir Arthur C.