A new president is at the helm of Scaled Composites, the company that produced the world's first private-sector spaceship and is now working on a fleet of second-generation rocketships.
According to a news release issued this afternoon, Doug Shane is moving up from vice president and will take responsibility for day-to-day operations at the company, which is based in Mojave, Calif., and was acquired last year by Northrop Grumman.
Company founder Burt Rutan has been named chief technology officer and chairman emeritus.
"I suggested this change to our organizational structure because I want to focus on developing our talented, innovative team and ensuring we continue to provide our customers the creative technical approaches that only Scaled offers," Rutan said in the news release. "I am successfully recovering from about eight months of significant heart health challenges, and with this move look forward to many more years of fun here at Scaled."
Rutan led the team behind the SpaceShipOne rocket plane, which won the $10 million Ansari X Prize in 2004. He has also guided the Scaled effort to build a SpaceShipTwo fleet of passenger vehicles for British billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic venture. At January's SpaceShipTwo design rollout, the 64-year-old Rutan signaled that he was giving bigger roles to a new generation of engineers at Scaled.
Scaled said Shane joined the company as a founding member in 1982, and since 1989 he has been responsible for business development, contracts and proposals as well as the company's flight test operations.
The mothership for SpaceShipTwo, known as White Knight Two, is due to be rolled out in Mojave next month. Virgin Galactic expects to begin passenger spaceflights no earlier than 2010.