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Looking Up: Filmmakers Focus on Aerospace Guru Burt Rutan

The filmmakers who traced the rise of the SpaceShipOne rocket plane are now turning their focus to its designer's next high-flying project — which is currently taking shape in his garage. But they need a little extra help, and that's why they've put together a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign.

Aerospace guru Burt Rutan is the subject of Antenna Films' work in progress, titled "Looking Up, Way Up." Rutan is best-known for designing SpaceShipOne, which became the first privately built and financed craft to reach outer space in 2004. Rutan also has played roles in the development of scores of other flying machines, ranging from the VariEze homebuilt airplane, to the Voyager and Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer round-the-world planes, to the Stratolaunch mega-airplane and SpaceShipTwo.

Four years ago, Rutan retired from Scaled Composites, the company he founded — but now he's working on a new kind of aircraft at his home in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Antenna Films' Scott B and Sandy Guthrie are documenting the project, just as they documented SpaceShipOne's development 11 years earlier, and they're looking for an $80,000 boost from Kickstarter by March 27.

Scott B is coy about what Rutan is up to: "I can't reveal much about the plane," he said in an emailed news release. However, word has leaked out that it'll be an unconventional type of seaplane on skis (dubbed the Skigull). How soon will we see it? Soon, based on this comment from Guthrie: “Because he’s building his new plane so quickly, we need to make this project happen now.”

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— Alan Boyle
NBCUniversal has established a multi-platform partnership with Virgin Galactic to track the development of SpaceShipTwo.