Fri, Apr 01, 2005
Legendary Engineer Cites Burnout, Pension
04.01.05 Special Edition: The legendary
aeronautical engineer Burt Rutan shocked the industry Friday by
announcing that he was closing the doors of his privately held
design and engineering company, Scaled Composites.
Rutan has accepted a position as an Aerospace Engineer II with
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where he will
run lots of calculations for senior engineers. "I'm tired of doing
all the hard thinking around here," Rutan told Aero-News. "Plus,
the desert gets to a guy after a while. I'm ready for a change of
Rutan is known far beyond the industry thanks to his
world-circling Voyager and X-prize-winning SpaceShipOne, but he's
also an icon to aviators thanks to his paradigm-breaking VariViggen
and EZ series homebuilts, plans for which were sold in large
quantities in the 1970s and 1980s.
"This just got to me, all these years of single-handedly having
to keep the hope of space travel alive," Rutan said in an Aero-News
exclusive interview. "I'm pretty much burnt out at Scaled. So I
took a good long look at the opportunities at NASA. After all, the
public sector employs a lot of engineers now, and they're not even
flying! Imagine how much NASA will grow, if it ever does manned
Was it the challenge of manned spaceflight that compelled Burt
to move to NASA?
"Hell, no. We already did THAT at Scaled. It was the four weeks'
paid vacation, and they have a pretty sweet pension plan, those
federal workers. I mean, us federal workers. Sorry, I'm still
getting used to it myself."
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