Scaled Composites Hiring Spaceship Builders

If you're looking to get your hands dirty and be on the ground floor of public space travel, you might touch base with one of the leading spaceline builders.

Scaled Composites in Mojave, California is in the deep design stage of a fleet of commercial suborbital spaceships and launch aircraft. They are also in recruitment mode to find the right talent to build the commercial spaceships for the new industry of private spaceflight.

This same firm rocketed into history in 2004 with a trio of suborbital flights of its piloted SpaceShipOne. It was the first private spacecraft that flew back-to-back treks within a 14-day period to snag the $10 million Ansari X Prize.

Spaceship work at Scaled is led by Burt Rutan, President of the company that he founded in 1982. Scaled Composites, LLC is an aerospace and specialty composites development company located in Mojave, some 80 miles north of Los Angeles.

Scaled is primarily focused on air vehicle design, tooling, manufacturing, specialty composite structure design, analysis, fabrication and developmental flight test.

First order of business

Rutan told that while the company's mail box tends to stay "full", he is on the lookout for skilled people to help in constructing spaceships.

"We are looking for people that like to build things with their hands and are good craftsman," Rutan explained. "We need those that give 100-percent each day and enjoy a fast-paced research and development environment."

Rutan said that his company hires individuals from all kinds of backgrounds, not just the normal "aerospace pool". "We look for those who have passion...are talented in building quality well in a team atmosphere, and are trustworthy."

The first order of spaceline business is designing the new SpaceShipTwo (SS2) and White Knight Two (WK2) launch systems, now in development at Scaled Composites.

Building the fleet

In July of last year, Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group of Companies and Rutan announced their signing of an agreement to form The Spaceship Company - a new aerospace production company to build a fleet of commercial suborbital spaceships and launch aircraft.

The SS2/WK2 system will use the reentry and hybrid rocket motor technology developed for the Ansari X prize-winning SpaceShipOne, and will license that technology from Mojave Aerospace company - owned by Microsoft mogul, investor, and entrepreneur, Paul Allen.

The Spaceship Company will manufacture the new launch aircraft, spaceships and support equipment and market them to spaceline operators, including the launch customer, Branson's Virgin Galactic.

The Spaceship Company will be jointly owned by Virgin and Scaled, and will contract Scaled for the research, development, testing and certification of SS2/WK2. Rutan is heading up the technical development team.

In-house training

Rutan said that Scaled has created its own in-house composite training course. It brings together novices from various backgrounds to teach them composite manufacturing skills. 

"We then develop an expert prototype-manufacturing workforce for our research projects, and later provide production opportunities for them as our spaceships enter the production line," Rutan explained.

Shop fabrication specialists are a key part of the research and development team, Rutan said. There's quite a bit of excitement at Scaled during flight testing and any milestone-making work, "activities that happen right outside our doors here at the Mojave Spaceport," he said.

Currently Scaled Composites is actively recruiting engineers and composite-structure/aircraft-systems fabricators. "We are not able to hire temporary employees or interns," Rutan added.

Scaled has developed new research aircraft at the rate of more than one per year for the last 24 years. The growth plan for the firm, Rutan added, includes many exciting projects including flight hardware for the new personal spaceflight industry.

Rutan said that those interested in the work ahead can reference the "Careers" page on the company web site at for current openings, as well as keep an eye out for new openings in the future. Also, there is an on-line application form there for easy resume submission, he noted.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Leonard David
Space Insider Columnist

Leonard David is an award-winning space journalist who has been reporting on space activities for more than 50 years. Currently writing as's Space Insider Columnist among his other projects, Leonard has authored numerous books on space exploration, Mars missions and more, with his latest being "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" published in 2019 by National Geographic. He also wrote "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet" released in 2016 by National Geographic. Leonard  has served as a correspondent for SpaceNews, Scientific American and Aerospace America for the AIAA. He has received many awards, including the first Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History in 2015 at the AAS Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium. You can find out Leonard's latest project at his website and on Twitter.