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Aero-engineering pioneer Burt Rutan, who developed manned space flight with SpaceShipOne, won the $10 million X Prize, and was named Time Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year,” will speak on “Technology and the Future: A Super Renaissance” for Lafayette’s annual John and Muriel Landis Lecture 8 p.m. today in the Williams Center for the Arts auditorium.

He also will lead an informal conversation on entrepreneurship 4 p.m. that day in Williams Center room 108. Both talks are open to the public.

Rutan is known for designing light, strong, distinctive-looking, energy-efficient aircraft. He is most famous for his design of the record-breaking Voyager, the first plane to fly around the world without stopping or refueling, and the suborbital rocket plan SpaceShipOne.

Newsweek describes him as “the man responsible for more innovations in modern aviation than any living engineer.”

Last year Rutan made international headlines as the designer of SpaceShipOne, the world’s first privately built manned aircraft to reach space, and as winner of the $10 million X prize, the competition created to spur the development of affordable
space tourism.

“Manned space flight is not only for governments to do,” says Rutan, recipient of the Presidential Citizen’s Medal, the Charles A. Lindbergh Award, and many other honors. “We proved it can be done by a small company operating with limited resources and a few dozen dedicated employees. The next 25 years will be a wild ride, one that history will note was done for everyone’s benefit.”

Rutan’s vision of private enterprise offering adventure rides into space is already on its way to becoming a reality. Sir Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin Group, is licensing SpaceShipOne’s technology, with flights scheduled to begin in 2007. In 15 years, Rutan predicts, “space tourism will be a multibillion-dollar business.”

The development and launch of SpaceShipOne, financed by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, was featured in two Discovery Channeldocumentaries, including “Black Sky: The Race for Space.” A 60 Minutesprofile, “Burt Rutan: An American Original,” aired in November 2004.

Rutan received a B.S. in aeronautical engineering at California Polytechnic University in 1965. He worked for the U.S. Air Force from 1965-1972 as flight test project engineer at Edwards Air Force Base in California. In March 1972, he became director of the Bede Test Center for Bede Aircraft in Newton, Kan. In June 1974, Rutan left and founded Rutan Aircraft Factory to develop a non-conventional research aircraft he had designed while still in college. In April 1982, Rutan founded Scaled Composites, Inc. to develop research aircraft. The company employs 130 people at the Mojave, Calif., airport. For 20 years, Scaled has been the world’s most productive aerospace prototype development company, rolling out, on average, one new aircraft type each year. Most of Scaled’s current projects are proprietary to the customer.

Established by Trustee Emeritus John Landis ’39, the Landis Lectureship focuses on issues of technology and international cooperation. Previous Landis lecturers include musician, music producer, entrepreneur, and music industry expert Nile Rodgers, who spoke last year; author Isaac Asimov; New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and recipient of the National Book Award; television journalist and former Texas state district judge Catherine Crier; B. Gentry Lee, space-systems engineer and science fiction novelist; Alden Meyer, director of government relations for the Union of Concerned Scientists; and Peter H. Gleick, co-founder and president of Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security.

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