17 movers & shakers who have influenced Bristol Spaceplanes

22 February 2014

This is a list of people whose work has most influenced the David Ashford, MD of Bristol Spaceplanes. It is certainly not intended to be a complete or authoritative record of those who have contributed most to the new space age.

Burt Rutan

Aeronautical engineer par excellence and founder of the Scaled Composites company, which built the first privately funded spaceplane, SpaceShipOne [SS1].

Buzz Aldrin

The second man to step on the Moon, and long-time advocate of reusable launchers.

Charles Lurio

Perhaps the most effective journalistic advocate of the new space age and recorder of progress towards its fulfilment.

Dennis Tito

The first space tourist. By paying $20 million and undergoing six months of tough astronaut training, Tito demonstrated that the market for space tourism is an exceptional one.

Elon Musk

Founder of SpaceX, which is re—writing the rules for launcher development by building the Falcon series at a fraction of the traditional cost.

Eric Anderson

Co—founder of Space Adventures, which has arranged for seven private citizens to visit the International Space Station. He is also co—founder of Planetary Resources, which was set up to explore the feasibility of mining asteroids.

Eugen Sanger

German rocket pioneer. His studies of the 1930s and 1940s led to the European Aerospace Transporter projects of the 1960s. In 1933, Sanger published a report, Raketenflugtecknik [Rocket Flight Engineering], that was translated into English and Russian and became very influential. It contains a concept sketch of a rocket—powered research aeroplane that looks remarkably like the X—15 which flew 26 years later.

Neil Armstrong

The first man to step on the moon.


Patrick Collins

A long-standing advocate of space tourism. Pioneer of space tourism market research and the economics of solar power satellites.

Paul Allen

Co—founder of Microsoft, funder of SS1 and founder of Stratolaunch.

Peter Diamandis

Founder of the International Space University, the X-Prize, and the Singularity University. The X—Prize led directly to SS1, the success of which has made the new space age all but inevitable in the next decade or two.

Ray Kurzweil

Inventor and creator of the ‘Singularity’ concept to describe what may happen when we invent computers that exceed our mental capacity in all important aspects.

Richard Branson

The first entrepreneur to set up an airline, Virgin Galactic, offering space experience flights.


Robert Bigelow

The first entrepreneur to build space stations for commercial use.

Thomas F. Rogers

One of the first to appreciate the importance of space tourism as a means of lowering the cost of access to space. His foundation provided the first seed money for the X—Prize foundation.

Wernher von Braun

The prime mover of the V-2, the first vehicle to space, and the Saturn rockets that took the first men to the Moon.


Yuri Gagarin

The first man in space.

An extract from Space Exploration: All That Matters, by David Ashford; buy the book at iTunesGoogle PlayWaterstones or Amazon.

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