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.
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.
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.
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.
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