10:01 PM

Something Big
Brewing in Mojave?

I've made it quite public over the years that I am a huge fan of everything Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites does. Rutan is – in my humble opinion – the most prolific aerospace engineer on this planet today, and every ship he and his team build can do amazing things.

Despite the tragic setback they suffered recently when three crew members perished in a flight line engine test explosion, Scaled remains on the very forward edge of the oncoming commercial space travel envelope. We know they are building ships for Virgin Galactic – that is quite public – but the following news tells me that they might be capable of producing much larger things:

Northrop Grumman Corporation announced today that it has completed a transaction that increases its ownership in Scaled Composites, LLC from approximately 40 percent to 100 percent.
With this 'whole enchilada' stake in Scaled, Northrop Grumman is showing their cards big time, shouting to the aerospace community that they want one of two things:
(1) They're jumping on a 100% share of Scaled because they desire a BIG piece of the commercial space travel pie. If you want in that game – and want to fly the very best private spacecraft – you want Burt Rutan on your team.

(2) Northrop Grumman is acquiring Scaled because they know Rutan can deliver a yet undisclosed new craft or system, one that can complete just about any civil or military mission. Rutan has the aviation creativity to build just about anything the Northrop management can dream up...anything.
O.K., I cannot decide which way to go on this. Do you bet on Northrop Grumman buying Scaled for the commercial space travel possibilities, or consider the hard-to-ignore fact thay they are a $30 billion global defense and technology company with a long history of building seriously lethal systems and products for worldwide government entities?

If you're not quite sure exactly what Northrop Grumman does these days, here's a sampling of products found under their "Space Technology" banner:
Bipropellant Engines & Thrusters
Booster Vehicle Engines
Chandra X-ray Observatory
Earth Observation/Remote Sensing
Electric Propulsion
Gel and Tactical Propulsion
Hyperspectral Imaging
James Webb Space Telescope
Laser Diode Arrays
Missile Defense
Propulsion Systems
Satellite Communications
Space-Based Surveillance
Spacecraft Platforms
Space Radar
Space Tracking and Surveillance System
Go ahead, pick any one of those, and let Rutan go wild with the design. When you mate our best aerospace engineer with one of our most important aerospace companies, the possibilities are indeed endless.

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