Anyone looking to get their hands dirty and be on the ground floor of public space travel might want to touch base with one of the leading builders of spacecraft that are being designed specifically to transport future space tourists.
Scaled Composites in Mojave, Calif. , the firm that built the X Prize-winning SpaceShipOne, already is designing a fleet of commercial suborbital spaceships and the aircraft that will serve as their launch platforms. They also are searching for the right talent to help them build these commercial spaceships for the new industry of private spaceflight.
This same firm rocketed into history in 2004 with a trio of suborbital flights of its piloted SpaceShipOne, which won them the $10 million Ansari X Prize after they pulled off two such flights within 14 days.
Scaled Composites LLC is an aerospace and specialty composites development company located in Mojave, some 130 kilometers north of Los Angeles. Its president, Burt Rutan, founded the company in 1982.
Scaled is focused primarily on air vehicle design, tooling, manufacturing, specialty composite structure design, analysis, fabrication and developmental flight test.
“We are looking for people that like to build things with their hands and are good craftsman,” Rutan explained. “We need those that give 100 percent each day and enjoy a fast-paced research and development environment.”
Rutan said that his company hires individuals from all kinds of backgrounds, not just the normal aerospace pool . “We look for those who have passion … are talented in building quality things … work well in a team atmosphere and are trustworthy.”
The first order of business is designing the new SpaceShipTwo (SS2) and White Knight Two (WK2) launch systems, now in development at Scaled Composites.
In July 2005, Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group of companies, and Rutan announced their signing of an agreement to form The Spaceship Company — a new aerospace production company to build a fleet of commercial suborbital spaceships and launch aircraft.
The SS2/WK2 system will use the re-entry and hybrid rocket motor technology developed for SpaceShipOne, and will license that technology from Mojave Aerospace Ventures, which is owned by Microsoft mogul, investor and entrepreneur Paul Allen.
The Spaceship Company will manufacture the new launch aircraft, spaceships and support equipment, and market them to spaceline operators, including Branson’s Virgin Galactic.
The Spaceship Company will be jointly owned by Virgin and Scaled, and will contract Scaled for the research, development, testing and certification of SS2/WK2. Rutan is heading up the technical development team.
Rutan said Scaled Composites has created its own in-house composite training course. It brings together novices from various backgrounds to teach them composite manufacturing skills.
“We then develop an expert prototype-manufacturing work force for our research projects, and later provide production opportunities for them as our spaceships enter the production line,” Rutan explained.
Shop fabrication specialists are a key part of the research and development team, Rutan said. There is quite a bit of excitement at Scaled during flight testing and any milestone-making work, “activities that happen right outside our doors here at the Mojave Spaceport,” he said.
Currently, Scaled Composites is actively recruiting engineers and composite-structure/aircraft-systems fabricators. “We are not able to hire temporary employees or interns,” Rutan added.
Scaled has developed new research aircraft at the rate of more than one per year for the last 24 years. The growth plan for the firm, Rutan added, includes many exciting projects including flight hardware for the new personal spaceflight industry.
Rutan said that those interested in the work ahead can reference the “Careers” page on the company’s Web site at www.scaled.com. The site also contains an on line application form.