DIY Science and Sideburns
Burt Rutan is THE bad dude. Not only is he a genius aviation pioneer, CEO of "Scaled Composites" a company he founded to circumvent government limitation in space travel, but he sports the raddest white sideburns in the science world.
Burt Rutan didn't want to wait any longer for someone else to invent inexpensive space travel, so he secretly developed SpaceShipOne and its airborne launcher, White Knight. Unlike the cumbersome space shuttle, SpaceShipOne doesn't need huge fuel tanks to lift it into space, but relies on a simple aircraft to carry it up to an altitude where it can thrust itself into space. One of the funding sources for this project was the billionaire Paul Allen. (see sidebar to Paul Allen Experience) These boys have huge dreams and the huge money to make them come true. With the lure of the Ansari X-Prize, and its ten million dollar award to whoever could make two trips to the edge of space (62 miles above the earth) and back in two weeks, Burt Rutan's team delivered their lightweight spacecraft, and won, handily.
I have absolutely NO desire to visit the edge of space. I don't even like to fly in an airplane. But I love the ability to get around the massive expenditures of the government and make monumental things happen. I have always loved the DIY approach, and respect those with the vision to improve how things are done. I also really love his sideburns.