Voyager, Proteus and SpaceShipOne have become aerospace legends. As has the man who established them all – Burt Rutan. Zenith Press has released a chronicle of the man and his machines entitled Burt Rutan’s Race to Space: The Magician of Mojave and His Flying Innovations. The book provides a chronicle of all the air and spacecraft that have soared off of Rutan’s blueprints and into reality.
The book’s first main segment is a large section which is essentially a catalog of the numerous craft that Rutan has produced over the decades. Many of the flying machines have their unique characteristics highlighted within the 160 pages of this book. Fear not, this tome is wallpapered with images – most of which are color (175 color images to 55 black and white).
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Some of the most interesting of these images are not the glossy stills of air or spacecraft in action but rather the simple drawings that are done by the man himself. These sketches, some little more than cartoons others just simplistic line-drawings, highlight the genius that is Rutan and provide an insight into how his mind works.
The nature of the book changes somewhat when one reaches the chapter entitled, “The Scaled Composites Years.” From this point on, the book’s focus narrows to concentrate on Rutan’s X-PRIZE efforts – and beyond.
The book was written by Dan Linehan and is his second detailing the efforts of Rutan and Scaled Composites (the first was SpaceShipOne: An Illustrated History). In short, the freelance writer is steeped in all things Rutan. Whereas his first work on the subject covered the history-making flight of SpaceShipOne, this effort is a general overview of Rutan and his legacy. But be forewarned, there are many projects that span the entire realm of aerospace that Rutan and company have been involved with that might surprise you.
Given that the Mojave “magician” has retired recently – this book is timely, enjoyable and acts as a wonderful window into the mind of the man that has revolutionized flight. SpaceShipTwo continues to successfully complete test after test – making Burt Rutan’s Race to Space a primer for things to come. The book retails for $30, and it is well-worth the price and will be a welcome addition to any space buff’s collection.