MOJAVE, Calif., Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Aerospace designer Burt Rutan, the man behind the SpaceShipTwo spacecraft destined to take tourists to space, has announced his retirement in California.
Rutan, 66, is the founder of the aerospace research firm Scaled Composites, located at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, where he is currently chief technical officer, SPACE.com reported.
Subsequent to his retirement, Rutan will assume the title of founder and chairman emeritus.
Rutan has been in California's Antelope Valley for 45 years, initially first as a flight test engineer for the Air Force. In 1974 he started the Rutan Aircraft Factory to create experimental aircraft for homebuilders.
In 1986 he designed the Voyager, the first aircraft to circle the world non-stop without refueling.
In 2004, Rutan designed SpaceShipOne, called the world's first privately-built piloted spacecraft to reach space. The craft won the $10 million Ansari X Prize, a competition created to spur the development of affordable space tourism.
"Burt is known worldwide as a legendary genius in aircraft design in the aviation world. I am very fortunate and proud to have worked by his side for the past 28 years," Scaled President Douglas Shane said in a statement.