Scaled Composites

Infobox Company
company_name = Scaled Composites, LLC
company_type = Division
company_slogan = "Question, never defend"
foundation = Mojave, California (1982)
key_people = Doug Shane President
Burt Rutan Founder/CTO
location = Poway, California
num_employees = over 200
industry = Aerospace
products = Air vehicle design, tooling, and manufacturing, specialty composite structure design, analysis and fabrication and developmental flight test
revenue = $20-30 million
parent = Northrop Grumman
homepage = []

Scaled Composites (often abbreviated as Scaled), formerly the Rutan Aircraft Factory, is a company currently owned by Northrop Grumman that is located at the Mojave Spaceport, Mojave, California, United States and is headed by aircraft designer Burt Rutan. Prior to acquisition by Northrop Grumman, the company was founded to develop experimental aircraft, but now focuses on designing and developing concept craft and prototype fabrication processes for aircraft and other vehicles. It is known for interesting designs, for its use of non-metal, composite materials, and for winning the Ansari X Prize with its experimental spacecraft SpaceShipOne.

Company history

Scaled Composites was established in 1982 and purchased by the Beech Aircraft Corporation in 1985, as a result of the collaboration on the Starship project. In 1988, Beech's parent company, Raytheon, sold Scaled back to Rutan, who then sold it to Wyman-Gordon. After Wyman-Gordon was acquired by Castparts, Inc., Rutan and ten investors re-acquired the company as Scaled Composites, LLC. Northrop Grumman, a major shareholder in the company with a 40% stake, said it would acquire the company outright on July 20, 2007. Both companies said Northrop Grumman's acquisition would not affect Scaled Composites' strategy or involve replacing Burt Rutan as senior manager. [cite web |url='s |title=MP-RTIP: Rutan To Get First Crack At Flight Test |accessdate=2006-12-07 |last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors= |date= |year= |month= |format= | |publisher=Shephard Group |pages= |language= |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ] [cite web | url = | title = Northrop to Own SpaceShipOne Builder | author = Associated Press | publisher = Forbes | date = July 20, 2007 | accessdate = 2007-07-27 ] The acquisition by Northrop Grumman was completed on August 24, 2007. [cite web | url= | title = Northrop Grumman Completes Acquisition of Scaled Composites, LLC | accessdate = 2007-08-25 ]


The company made a splash in April 2003 when it revealed that it was working on a privately funded spacecraft, in an attempt to win the Ansari X PRIZE for the first private, manned spaceflight. This experimental rocket powered spacecraft was given the name SpaceShipOne. On December 17, 2003, they announced SpaceShipOne's first supersonic flight, the first flight of its kind by a privately funded aircraft. SpaceShipOne successfully made this flight, reaching convert|68000|ft|m and 930mph (Mach 1.2). The craft was brought aloft by the White Knight carrier aircraft. On the same day, Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft, confirmed publicly the rumors that he was the angel investor behind the SpaceShipOne venture.

On April 1, 2004, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued the company what it called the world's first license for a sub-orbital manned rocket flight. The license was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation, which has backed licenses for more than 150 commercial launches of unmanned launch vehicles in its 20 years, but never a license for manned flight on a sub-orbital trajectory. The Mojave Airport, operating part-time as Mojave Spaceport, is the launch point for SpaceShipOne. SpaceShipOne performed the first privately funded human spaceflight on June 21, 2004. Flight 16P on September 29, 2004 and Flight 17P on October 4, 2004 won the X-Prize for Scaled Composites and SpaceShipOne.

Other famous vehicles

Before forming Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan designed several aircraft for home builders, including the famous Rutan VariEze, often considered one of general aviation's most innovative designs. He also designed the Beechcraft Starship, although without commercial success in production. These aircraft are innovative because of their canard, wingtip device and pusher propeller configuration.

Before SpaceShipOne, Rutan was best known for his Voyager aircraft, which his brother, Dick Rutan, and Jeana Yeager flew around the world without refueling, in 1986. In 2005, the similar Global Flyer was flown by billionaire adventurer Steve Fossett on the first solo non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world, and later in the longest flight in history: 41,467.53 km (26,389 miles).

Although their role was not widely publicized, Rutan and Roncz helped design and Scaled manufactured the double slotted wing mast for the 1988 "Stars & Stripes" catamaran for Dennis Conner's entry of that year in the America's Cup yacht race.

Rocket test accident

On July 26, 2007, an explosion occurred during a cold flow test of a nitrous oxide injector at a Scaled Composites test stand at Mojave Spaceport in Mojave, California, killing three and critically injuring three others. [cite web | url = | title = Third person dies in Mojave Airport explosion, names released | date = July 27, 2007 | publisher = KGET | accessdate = 2007-07-27 ] All of those injured or killed worked for Scaled Composites. The nitrous oxide was under pressure, but at ambient temperature and the test had been safely conducted during the development of SpaceShipOne and once before for SpaceShipTwo. Burt Rutan, who heads the company, had no immediate explanation for the explosion. He had spoken to Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic, but no mention was made of what was discussed or if it will impact Virgin's plans to use Scaled Composites rockets for its space tourism program. Northrop Grumman, who had recently agreed to increase their ownership stake in the company to 100% also had no comment. [cite web | url = | title = Rocket Explosion Kills Two At Mojave In California | date = July 26, 2007 | publisher = | accessdate = 2007-07-27 ] [cite web | url = | title = Large Explosion at Calif. Airport Kills 2 | date = July 26, 2007 | publisher = KNBC | accessdate = 2007-07-27 ] [cite web | url = | title = Blast kills 2, injures 4 at spaceship firm's Mojave airport site | date = July 26, 2007 | first = Alicia | last = Chang | publisher = The Press-Enterprise | accessdate = 2007-07-27 ]

According to the main Scaled Composites web site (July 27, 2007) the three fatalities were Eric Blackwell, 38, Glen May, 45, and Todd Ivens, 33. On July 27, 2007 Cal/OSHA arrived, sealed the site and began their investigation.

On August 25th, Rutan stated that the explosion has put the propulsion research on hold, but other areas of research, such as the WK2, continue. [ [ Personal Spaceflight » Rutan: no explanation yet for explosion ] ]

Aircraft projects

Rutan Aircraft Factory aircraft

* Model 27 Variviggen (1972)
* Model 31 VariEze (1975)
* Model 32 Variviggen SP (1973)
* Model 33 VariEze (1976)
* Model 35 AD-1 (1979)
* Model 40/74 Defiant (1978)
* Model 54 Quickie (1978)
* Model 61 Long-EZ (1979)
* Model 68 AMSOIL Racer (1981)
* Model 73 NGT: Three-fifths scale model of Fairchild T-46 trainer (1981)
* Model 76 Voyager: First aircraft to circumnavigate the Earth non-stop (1986)
* Model 77 Solitaire (1982)

Scaled Composites aircraft

* Model 115 Starship: 85% scale prototype, went into production as the Beechcraft Model 2000 Starship (1982)
* Model 97 Microlight: 2-place pusher canard ultralight(1983)
* Model 120 Predator: Agricultural aircraft for Advanced Technology Aircraft Corp. (1984)
* B-2 Spirit: Scale model pole-mounted B-2 for radar cross section tests
* Model 80 Grizzly (1986)
* Model 133 ATTT (1987)
* Model 144 CM-44: UAV developed for California Microwave, now Northrop Grumman (1987)
* Model 81 Catbird (1988)
* Model 143 Triumph: Built for Beechcraft (1988)
* IAI Searcher: longer-winged version of Pioneer UAV (1988)
* Model TRA324 Scarab: Developed for Teledyne Ryan, now Northrop Grumman (1988)
* Model 173 Loral TFV: Towed decoy (1989)
* Model 179 Lockheed PLADS Rockbox: 8-man parachute delivery vehicle (1989)
* DC-X: Constructed the structural aeroshell and control surfaces under contract to McDonnell Douglas
* Model 151 ARES (1990)
* Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket: Wings, fins for air launch rocket (1990)
* Model 158 Pond Racer: Built for air racer Bob Pond (1990)
* Model 191: Single-engine general aviation aircraft (1991)
* Earthwinds: Pressurized gondola for round-the-world balloon attempt (1991)
* Model 226 Raptor: Raptor D-1 and D-2 for DOE (1993)
* Bell Eagle Eye: Tilt-rotor demonstrator aircraft for Bell Helicopter (1993)
* Model 233 Freewing: STOL RPV (1994)
* Space Industries Comet: Unmanned reentry capsule (1995)
* Kistler Zero: Two stage demonstration rocket. Project cancelled in 1995
* Model 202 Boomerang (1996)
* Model 247 Vantage: Developed for VisionAire (1996)
* Model 271 V-Jet II: Developed for Williams International (1997)
* Model 257 Motel 6 DLS: pressurized spherical gondola for around-the-world balloon (1998)
* Model 276 NASA X-38: fuselage of drop test vehicle (1998)
* Model 281 Proteus (1998)
* Roton ATV (1999)
* Model 287 NASA ERAST: R/C model for proof of concept of convert|85000|ft|m|abbr=on UAV
* Model 309 Adam M-309: Prototype for the Adam A500 (2000)
* Model 326 Northrop Grumman X-47A (2001)
* Model 302 Toyota TAA-1 (2002)
* Tier One (2003)
** Model 316 SpaceShipOne
** Model 318 White Knight
* Model 311 Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer: Same mission as Voyager, except a solo flight using a jet engine (2004)
* Model 346: Mentioned verbally by Rutan in 2004. Originally believed to reference SpaceShipTwo and White Knight 2, the passenger suborbital spacecraft under construction by The Spaceship Company, a joint venture between Scaled Composites and Virgin Group of the UK, for operation by the Virgin Galactic spaceline. But different model numbers have now been published (see below).
* Tier 1b (2008)
** Model 339 SpaceShipTwo Linehan, Dan. "SpaceShipOne: An Illustrated History". Zenith Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7603-3188-0.]
** Model 348 WhiteKnightTwo
* USAF Hunter-Killer project (2007?) in cooperation with Northrop Grumman
** Model 395: Proposed unmanned version of Model 281, equipped with armament
** Model 396: Smaller version of the RQ-4 Global Hawk, equipped with armament

External Projects - Aircraft

* US flight based testing and evaluation of the GA8 Airvan manufactured by Gippsland Aeronautics of Victoria, Australia (2000?).
** Flight evaluation of the external underneath cargo pod (2002?).

Non-aircraft work

* "Stars & Stripes": The catamaran that formed Dennis Conner's American entry for the America's Cup yacht race (1988)
* Power Augmented Ram Landing Craft (PARLC): For the U.S. Navy.
* General Motors Ultralite (1992)


External links

* [ Scaled Composites website]
* [ Rutan Aircraft Factory website]
* [ Aerofiles data on various Rutan/Scaled projects]
* [ SpaceShipOne Motor Bulkhead Case Study]

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