Burt Rutan

Space Cowboy

Mar 20, 2009
Outside Magazine

Ever since I was a child, I've enjoyed doing more than I thought I could do. Experimenting with model airplanes and aerodynamics, I created challenges for myself that were kind of out there. Not just for fun—I did it to win trophies. After I beat adults, I said, I'm going to go as far as I can. I can't put my finger on the reason for having humans in space. We'll likely have a decade of commercial space flight before we know why we're doing it. It's like the personal computer: When I bought my Apple II in 1978, the justification was games. Then, all of a sudden, there's this idea of the Internet. That would have been senseless if you just had IBM making five mainframes a year. I do want to spend a couple weeks in orbit, and take that big swing around the moon. It'd be days where you're seemingly motionless, then you'd make this screaming pass just above the highest mountains.

Roberts Rutan, 65, the founder of Scaled Composites, won the Ansari X Prize in 2004 for designing the first manned, privately funded craft to reach space twice within two weeks.

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