Rutan: no explanation yet for explosion

I was able to make it down to Alabama this weekend to attend the symposium where Burt Rutan spoke this morning. His prepared remarks did not directly address recent events (either the accident last month or the acquisition of Scaled Composites by Northrop Grumman, which closed yesterday). However, I was able to talk with him for a few minutes after his speech. Some highlights:

  • They have yet to determine a cause for the explosion last month, which remains under investigation.
  • Work on the propulsion program remains on hold at the moment, with future plans uncertain, but work in other areas, such as the carrier aircraft, continue
  • The accident had been tough for both Rutan and the company, because this is the first time they’ve had a casualty in any of their programs. They have received considerable support from the community, though.
  • The acquisition will not have any material changes on Scaled or how it operates, something Northrop specifically requested.

I will write up some more notes on his speech when I have a chance (I’m using a public Internet terminal during a brief lunch break), including, most likely, a detailed article in Monday’s edition of The Space Review.

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