Burt Rutan on Innovation

WUWT readers may recall that aviation pioneer Burt Rutan gave an engaged and interesting presentation on WUWT.TV last month. He’s now added to his online presence with a new video lecture.

Burt writes today:

Last month I presented my lecture on Innovation Inspiration and Commercial Space to the World Affairs Council of Jacksonville, Florida.  For the first time I allowed it to be recorded and made available on the internet.  The request was made by CSPAN and they made a high-quality video, showing all the PowerPoint slides.

It is now available on the C-SPAN Video Library here:




He adds in a P.S. email:

Of course the vast majority of you do not have the time to watch a 45-minute talk with 45 minutes of Q & A.  However, I suggest that you might enjoy small parts of it, like this 3-minute segment.  Look at 1:09:44 thru 1:13:26.
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December 26, 2012 6:53 pm

A lot of fun. Thank you, Mr. Rutan.
One of several thoughts that stick (from around 34 minutes): “NASA has not worked to reduce the cost of space flight to orbit. They developed the shuttle — put all their money in that for all these decades — and the shuttle ended up being the most expensive one, more expensive to fly than throwing away the boosters. Fail! It was supposed to be safer — statistically the shuttle is the most dangerous way to go to space. Fail! That’s weird. No it’s not — it’s government.” But I actually disagree on this. The cause is not government per se, but bureaucracy. NASA of the 1960s was also a government agency, but they weren’t yet a bureaucracy.

December 26, 2012 7:12 pm

Fascinating man to listen to, as always…

December 26, 2012 7:41 pm

I really like him, since I heard of Spaceship 1 and the great invention of the “feathered” re-entry.
But with regard to impossible research goals we have aplenty:
– trying to run civilisation on wind turbines and Solar power
– trying to push electric cars into the market
– trying to print ourselves to prosperity (USA and EU alike)
And with regard to impressive things that actually happen and could inspire youth: Building ever higher bigger turbines in ever more fiendish territory, of course.
Which somehow gives me the idea of an X-Prize for the first demonstration of a renewable energy power source that can survive in real life energy market conditions AND make a profit without subsidies. Wouldn’t that be a challenge.

December 26, 2012 7:54 pm

Anyone giving video lectures in the third Millennium is a tad late to the party for being an ‘aviation pioneer ‘…. Just sayin’.

December 26, 2012 7:56 pm

Thank you .
Re: Bureaucracy- Jerry Pournelle’s Iron law says it all:

December 26, 2012 7:57 pm

Not having the whole enchilada just won’t do. Watched the whole thing. I considered it one of the best investments of time I have ever done.
Simply extraordinary wisdom.
Amongst the riveting all of it were 2 QA back to back that truly stand-out. The first was a spellbinding, >140 characters, evolution of what H. sapiens can do, “unchained.” The second was about asking the right question.
A baton which will hopefully be passed…….
Thanks Burt!

December 26, 2012 8:31 pm

Matt says:
December 26, 2012 at 7:54 pm
Anyone giving video lectures in the third Millennium is a tad late to the party for being an ‘aviation pioneer ‘…. Just sayin’.

Interesting comment.
I “know” what Rutan has done in his life with respect to innovation, initiative, enthusiasm, investments and personal and economic risk, and promotion of new cultures in aviation – a unique field where “errors” WILL kill even the most highly qualified men and women…..
Now, what have “you” done that would warrant my effort at listening to “your” opinions? Or am I wasting my time, other readers’ time as we listen to you?

December 26, 2012 8:36 pm

Matt says:
December 26, 2012 at 7:54 pm
“Anyone giving video lectures in the third Millennium is a tad late to the party for being an ‘aviation pioneer ‘…. Just sayin’.”
Ah yeah? So why did no one before him build an ultra light weight composite capsule that flies to a height of a 100km and comes back intact, Mr Genius?

John West
December 26, 2012 8:45 pm

@ DirkH
You forgot making Muslims feel good about their scientific contributions.

Paul Penrose
December 26, 2012 8:54 pm

Matt, one accepted definition of ‘pioneer’ is: ” One who opens up new areas of thought, research, or development: a pioneer in aviation.”
I think Burt Rutan qualifies as a pioneer under this definition. Unless you think he has not opened up new areas of thought, research, or development.

December 26, 2012 9:10 pm

Who would have figured that Bob Tisdale, despite his slightly clunky written style, comes off far better on camera than the others…

December 26, 2012 10:02 pm

Watched the whole thing. That was AMAZING! It’s been a while since I’ve seen a presentation by someone so pragmatic. One could say he’s conservative, but it seems he just cares about common sense and a drive toward a better future. You can see in his entire body language how much he loves his work. People are drawn to other people who are driven. And it really showed.

December 26, 2012 10:57 pm

Thank you for a very interesting presentation!

December 27, 2012 12:05 am

Sic itur ad astra, Burt Rutan!
Thank you for daring.

December 27, 2012 1:56 am

Anyone else can see the parallel between shuttle and “renewable” sources of energy?

Bloke down the pub
December 27, 2012 1:57 am

The future of travel to space. http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/

December 27, 2012 6:01 am

Matt as one who has watched Burt Rutan’s amazing, and beneficial career pushing the
envelope of technology in aviation, that is a gross insult to a great man…He’s had success and
failure but still he “boldly goes” sniping is unbecoming…

David Ross
December 27, 2012 7:44 am

The best Christmas present.
Thanks Burt.

Tony Mach
December 27, 2012 8:23 am

Regarding NASA/Shuttle/Government:
Until SpaceX/Dragon will be here, the safest (and cheapest) spacecraft for humans to travel to and from LEO is Soyuz – a product of the Soviet communistic government. Hmm.

Richard Bell
December 27, 2012 8:29 am

Great question put to Burt at “1 hour 9 min’s & 35 seconds ” …………….. Thank you Mr. Rutan

Tony Mach
December 27, 2012 8:35 am

And not to mention all those private companies (Boeing? LockheedMartin?) who are not able to create something that works and is affordable. The only reason American astronauts will be able to go to space in an American spacecraft, is that Elon Musk wants to go to Mars – not because he wants to make a profit.
Without Elon Musk’s wish to go to Mars, I would expect that the Orion spacecraft would fly humans some time in the next decade… The entire “classic” private American space- and aero-industry is designed to fish for pork barrels, not to produce innovative products.
It is not a matter of government or private, it is a matter of people in the right places, who have the will to go to space. Not a matter of people who want to profit, but people who want to innovate.

David L
December 27, 2012 11:11 am

Watched the whole thing and I’m glad I did. Worth every second. Even rewatched a variety of sections a couple times.

December 27, 2012 8:31 pm

Worth another look…..
Burt Rutan’s Spaceship Two – first feathered flight:

God Bless you Burt Rutan. That is one of the most awesome things I’ve ever seen. I wish I had been in it on that first drop! I feel dreams of the future while watching. It is one of the most wonderful machines built by man, maybe the most wonderful.

December 28, 2012 3:42 pm

Gene Nemetz says:
December 27, 2012 at 8:31 pm
“Worth another look…..
Burt Rutan’s Spaceship Two – first feathered flight:”
Thanks for posting.
Amazing music as well. Loves Underworld.

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