Years ago, Burt Rutan told a reporter for Popular Mechanics, “If we make a courageous decision like the goal and program we kicked off for Apollo in 1961, we will see our children or grandchildren in outposts on other planets.” Legendary science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clark would later recall Rutan’s quote in a piece he wrote about SpaceShipOne and comment, “Fortunately, we need not rely solely on governments for expanding humanity’s presence beyond the Earth.”
Burt Rutan’s Race to Space (July 2011) chronicles Rutan’s herculean efforts to do just that. Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum displays his breathtaking innovations: SpaceShipOne (winner of the $10 million Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight), the Voyager, Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer, and the VeriEze. His aerospace innovations preceding SpaceShipOne chronicle a progressive, step-by-step attempt to break barriers with engineering know-how and a wondrous imagination, all the while remaining on the forefront of the burgeoning private spaceflight industry. Rutan’s X Prize triumph and subsequent spacecraft designs are not a beginning, nor an end, but are steps in Burt Rutan’s continuing adventure to expand humanity’s presence beyond the Earth and into space.
From science writer Dan Linehan, this heavily illustrated history traces Rutan’s evolution toward becoming one of the great aerospace designers of all time. It starts with Rutan’s early career when he developed aircraft for the Rutan Aircraft Factory, a period marked by some of his greatest leaps in aerospace design; his founding of Scaled Composites, where many of his design breakthroughs are still kept under intense proprietary secrecy; his elegant SpaceShipOne design, a true engineering marvel; and SpaceShipTwo, the vehicle that would in many ways be the culmination of Rutan’s childhood dream and life’s work (to quote poet and aviator John Magee), to slip “the surly bonds of earth” and “trod the high, untrespassed sanctity of space.”
About Author Dan Linehan
In 2004, former engineer Dan Linehan attended the launch of SpaceShipOne when it captured the Ansari X Prize. His first book was SpaceShipOne: An Illustrated History, the authoritative account of this private spaceflight milestone. Linehan’s job as a freelance writer takes him around the world and allows him to explore. His publications range from poems about fishermen in local newspapers to articles about superconductors in scientific journals. In addition, Dan has consulted as a senior science editor for educational publishing companies since 2003. He has a strong interest in environmental issues and enjoys many forms of writing. Dan lives in Monterey, California.