Press Release

Burt Rutan and Private Space Pioneers to Testify on the Future Markets of Commercial Space

By SpaceRef Editor
April 19, 2005
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Burt Rutan, the pioneering designer of SpaceShipOne, will tomorrow join the President of Virgin Galactic and other leaders in the commercial space industry in testifying before the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics at a hearing to examine the future of the commercial space market and the government’s role in that future.

The first panel at the hearing will examine the potential of space tourism, with a focus on last year’s successful flights by SpaceShipOne, the world’s first privately-built and human-piloted space craft.  Built by famed aircraft developer Burt Rutan, SpaceShipOne last summer won the Ansari X Prize, a $10 million kitty raised by space enthusiasts to stimulate entrepreneurial interest in space flight.  Rutan’s ship was the first to fly to an altitude of more than 100 kilometers twice in two weeks, beating 25 other teams from seven countries.

Virgin Galactic, founded by the Virgin entertainment and airline company owner Richard Branson, has announced plans to buy a fleet of space craft based on SpaceShipOne’s design to carry tourists into suborbital space (an altitude not sufficient to orbit the Earth), possibly as early as 2008.

The second panel will examine the potential of the wider commercial space market, which includes rockets to launch satellites and the satellites themselves, which provide services ranging from beaming images of landscapes and weather patterns, to global communications and entertainment.  The government is very involved in the commercial space market in a variety of ways, including providing permits for launches, insuring private parties against catastrophic accidents.  Perhaps most significantly, the government is a leading purchaser of both satellites and launch services. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics – Hearing
Future Markets for Commercial Space
9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
2318 Rayburn House Office Building (WEBCAST)

Witness List:

Panel I

  • Mr. Burt Rutan founded his company Scaled Composites, Inc. in 1982.  For SpaceShipOne’s achievements, Mr. Rutan this month received the Collier Aerospace Trophy, the most prestigious prize in aeronautics.
  • Mr. Will Whitehorn is the President of Virgin Galactic and Group Corporate Affairs and Brand Development Director for Virgin Management Limited. 

Panel II

  • Mr. Elon Musk is the CEO and Chief Technology Officer of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) in El Segundo, CA.  He formerly founded two Internet companies, PayPal and Zip2 Corporation. 
  • Mr. John W. Vinter is Chairman of the International Space Brokers (ISB).  ISB represents nine of the twenty satellite companies in the world and is the only insurance broker that is focused exclusively on the space industry. 
  • Mr. Wolfgang Demish, the founder of Demisch Associates, LLC, is an aerospace financial analyst.
  • Dr. Molly Macauley is a Senior Fellow and Director of Academic Programs at the Resources for the Future. 

A copy of the hearing charter, which provides background information on the hearing, is attached to this advisory.  For more information, please contact the Science Committee Press Office at 202-225-4275.

SpaceRef staff editor.