|Founded||Mojave, California (1982)|
|Ben Diachun, president|
Kevin Mickey, president emeritus
|Products||Air vehicle design, tooling, and manufacturing, specialty composite structure design, analysis and fabrication, and developmental flight test|
Number of employees
Scaled Composites (often called simply Scaled) is an American aerospace company founded by Burt Rutan and currently owned by Northrop Grumman that is located at the Mojave Air and Space Port, Mojave, California, United States. Founded to develop experimental aircraft, the company now focuses on designing and developing concept craft and prototype fabrication processes for aircraft and other vehicles. It is known for unconventional designs, for its use of non-metal, composite materials, and for winning the Ansari X Prize with its experimental spacecraft SpaceShipOne.
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 Precision Castparts Corp., 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. The acquisition by Northrop Grumman was completed on August 24, 2007. Rutan retired in April 2011.
Before forming Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan had designed several aircraft for amateur builders, including the VariEze, often considered one of general aviation's most innovative designs. He also designed the Beechcraft Starship, which was, however, a commercial failure. These aircraft were distinctive because of their canard configuration, winglets and pusher propellers.
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 single-jet 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 (25,766.73 mi).
Although their role was not widely publicized, Rutan and John Roncz, who had provided aerodynamics support to a number of previous Rutan projects including Starship, helped design, and Scaled manufactured, the double slotted wing mast for the Stars & Stripes catamaran for Dennis Conner's entry in the 1988 America's Cup.
The company announced in April 2003 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 68,000 feet (21,000 m) and 930 mph (Mach 1.2). The craft was taken 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.
Stratolaunch Carrier Aircraft
Scaled Composites Model 351 (nicknamed the "Roc"), is being built for Stratolaunch Systems to provide a platform from which air-launch space missions can be staged. With a wingspan of 117 m (385 ft), the design has the longest wingspan of any airplane to date (July 2015).
In August 2015, Scaled Composites president Kevin Mickey stated the company has so far assembled "roughly 200,000 pounds of composite structure" for the vehicle and if put on a football field, "its wingtips would extend beyond the goalposts by 15 feet on each side."
Each of the twin fuselages of the aircraft is 238 feet (73 m) long and will be supported by 12 main landing gear wheels and two nose gear wheels. It will require 12,000 feet of runway to lift-off.
Rutan Aircraft Factory aircraft
Burt Rutan created Rutan Aircraft Factory to market a commercial variation of his Model "VariViggen" prototype" he began building in his garage in 1968 which he called The Model 32, also known as the VariViggen SP. This model which utilized a slightly longer fuselage, larger span and winglets in order to increase efficiency. The Rutan Aircraft Factory sold over 600 plan sets for the VariViggen to homebuilders, and eventually about 20 of the aircraft were built. Following the crash of one in New Brunswick, Canada in September 2006 due to wing tank fuel contamination, fewer than five are currently still flying. The prototype aircraft, N27VV, was donated to the EAA AirVenture Museum in 1988.
- 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)
- NASA AD-1 (1979)
- Model 68 AMSOIL Racer (1981)
- Model 73 NGT: Three-fifths scale model of Fairchild T-46 trainer (1981)
- Model 72 Grizzly (1982)
- Model 76 Voyager: First aircraft to circumnavigate the Earth non-refueled, non-stop (1986)
- Model 77 Solitaire (1982)
- Model 81 Catbird (1988) five-seat single-engine aircraft
- Model 202 Boomerang: (1996) Asymmetric 5 seat aircraft
Scaled Composites aircraft
- Model 115 Starship: 85% scale prototype, went into production as the Beechcraft Model 2000 Starship (1982)
- B-2 Spirit: Scale model pole-mounted B-2 for radar cross-section tests
- Model 133 ATTT (1987) tandem-wing STOL transport
- 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)
- 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)
- Bell Eagle Eye: Tilt-rotor demonstrator aircraft for Bell Helicopter (1993)
- Model 205, first preliminary design for airlaunch of a booster rocket heavier than 500,000 pounds (230,000 kg) (1991)
- Model 206, second preliminary design for heavy airlaunch (1991)
- Model 247 Vantage: Developed for VisionAire (1996)
- Model 271 V-Jet II: Developed for Williams International (1997)
- 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 85,000 ft (26,000 m) 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 311 Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer: Same mission as Voyager, except a solo flight using a jet engine (2004)
- Tier 1b (2008)
- Stratolaunch carrier aircraft (Model 351), world's largest wingspan aircraft
- Model 367 BiPod (2011) A hybrid electric roadable aircraft.
- USAF Hunter-Killer project (2007?) in cooperation with Northrop Grumman
- SpaceShipThree: The name of the proposed next iteration of Scaled Composites' manned spacecraft series.
- LauncherOne: The orbital launch vehicle now under development for Virgin Orbit, based on the technology from the SpaceShip series of Scaled Composites.
Other aircraft projects
- US flight based testing and evaluation of the GippsAero GA8 Airvan manufactured by GippsAero of Victoria, Australia, including flight evaluation of the external belly cargo pod.
- 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)
Accidents and incidents
- On July 26, 2007, an explosion occurred during testing of SpaceShipTwo's systems, killing three employees and injuring three more.
- On October 31, 2014, the SpaceShipTwo VSS Enterprise broke apart during an in-flight powered test. The incident killed one pilot and severely injured the other, resulting in the total loss of the vehicle; both pilots were Scaled employees. On July 28, 2015, the NTSB released the final report on its investigation of the incident, concluding that for an unknown reason the pilot had released the "Feather" of SpaceShipTwo prematurely, leading directly to the craft's disintegration.
- "MP-RTIP: Rutan To Get First Crack At Flight Test". UVOnline.com. Shephard Group. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved December 7, 2006.
- Associated Press (July 20, 2007). "Northrop to Own SpaceShipOne Builder". Forbes. Retrieved July 27, 2007.[dead link]
- "Northrop Grumman Completes Acquisition of Scaled Composites, LLC". Archived from the original on July 7, 2012. Retrieved August 25, 2007.
- "Burt Rutan Announces Retirement Plans" (PDF). Retrieved July 10, 2011.
- America's Cup 1988
- "SpaceShipOne gets federal go-ahead". msnbc.msn.com. Retrieved December 9, 2009.
- "Stratolaunch and Orbital – The Height of Air Launch". Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- "World's biggest plane Stratolaunch Carrier Aircraft to launch in 2016 - Daily Mail Online". Mail Online. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- Mariella Moon. "Largest plane in the world to perform test flights in 2016". Engadget. AOL. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- "SEE IT: World's largest plane under construction in Calif". NY Daily News. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- Aviation Investigation Report, CA: Transportation Safety Board, 2006, A06A0092
- "Scaled Composites - Company History | The English knowledge database". science-train.com. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
Belfiore, Michael (2012-01-23). "Burt Rutan on Designing the World's Largest Aircraft". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
In 1991, to address a requirement to launch a booster heavier than 500,000 pounds, [Rutan] did the Model 205 and 206 preliminary designs.
- Linehan, Dan. SpaceShipOne: An Illustrated History. Zenith Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7603-3188-0.
Belfiore, Michael (January 5, 2012). "Stratolaunch: world's biggest airplane to launch spaceships". Archived from the original on January 11, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
The mothership is currently known only by its Scaled model number: M351 ...[with design] planned for completion by late summer of next year ... [and to] begin flight testing in late 2015 in Mojave, with rocket test launches from the airplane to begin at Cape Canaveral in late 2016.
- "seradata.com - /hyperbola/". Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- "Virgin Galactic relaunches its smallsat launch business". NewSpace Journal. 2012-07-12. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
- EXCLUSIVE: Virgin Galactic unveils LauncherOne name!, Rob Coppinger, Flightglobal Hyperbola, December 9, 2008
- "Fatal explosion at Mojave Airport".
- Mojave Air and Space Port press conference on Friday 31 October 2014 at 2:00pm PDT -- involving: the Spaceport, Scaled, Virgin Galactic, County Fire Department, Sheriff's Department
- "Statement from Virgin Galactic 31.10.14". www.virgingalactic.com. 31 October 2014. Archived from the original on 14 November 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
- "The Space Review: A failure of foresight and oversight". Retrieved August 10, 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Scaled Composites.|
- Scaled Composites website
- Stargazer - The Ultimate Online Resource on Every Known Rutan Project
- Aerofiles data on various Rutan/Scaled projects
- "Patents owned by Scaled Composites". US Patent & Trademark Office. Retrieved December 6, 2005.
- SpaceShipOne Motor Bulkhead Case Study