Aerospace pioneers discuss the future of manned space flight at Student Forum

Dick RutanAt one point during the Turner Construction Student Forum Nov. 6, test pilot Dick Rutan (left) asked a question of the attendees: “How many of you think Albert Einstein was right when he said it was not possible to fly faster than the speed of light? …If you raised your hand, then shame on you. When I was your age, they were saying the same thing about the speed of sound, and guess what happened?

“You’re young, and you have tools that can do things no one can yet imagine,” Rutan added. “You will do great things if you don’t talk yourself out of trying, if you start looking at barriers as opportunities for greatness.”

Brian BinnieRutan and fellow pilot Brian Binnie (right), whose exploits have helped open outer space to future commercial travel, fielded questions from students from throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area about everything from the challenges of manned space flight to managing a creative team. They visited the University to speak in the Tate Distinguished Lecture Series. Read more from SMU News.

Tate Lecture Series welcomes pioneering pilots Nov. 6

rutan-binnie-200.jpgTest pilots Dick Rutan and Brian Binnie, whose exploits have helped open outer space to commercial travel, land at SMU for the Tate Distinguished Lecture Series at 8 p.m. Nov. 6 in McFarlin Auditorium. They will speak in place of Dick’s brother, aerospace engineer Burt Rutan, who for medical reasons is unable to attend.

Dick Rutan was the pilot of Voyager, which in December 1986 set the record for a non-stop, non-refueled flight around the world. He made the trip in 9 days, 3 minutes and 44 seconds – a mark that stands to this day. Brian Binnie completed the first and last powered flights of SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 was the first manned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 328,000 feet twice within the span of a 14-day period. Both pilots work with Burt Rutan’s company, Scaled Composites, LLC, an aerospace and specialty composites development company located in Mojave, California.

Rutan and Binnie will answer questions from SMU and local high school students in the Turner Construction Student Forum at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 6 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballroom. Faculty and staff members are invited to attend. Learn more at