X PRIZE FOUNDATION PRESS RELEASE
While many are calling President Obama’s proposed grounding of NASA’s program to return to the Moon the ending of an era for space travel, the X PRIZE Foundation sees this new budget proposal as a visionary step for NASA and an opportunity to forge new ideas, develop much-needed technology, and channel the American Spirit spurring innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Foundation, whose $10 million Ansari X PRIZE resulted in the founding of commercial space travel in 2004, has proven that incentivized competitions can leverage billions of dollars in innovation. The President’s plan for commercial competition will do something similar driving job creation and innovation as companies compete to discover the next breakthrough technology, ultimately propelling the race to space much further and much faster than if left solely in the hands of government.
“The U.S. Government doesn’t build your computers, nor do you fly aboard a U.S. Government owned and operated airline. Private industry routinely takes technologies pioneered by the government and turns them into cheap, reliable and robust industries. This has happened in aviation, air mail, computers, and the internet and it’s about time that it happen in space,” says Peter Diamandis, Chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation. “I applaud the President’s bold decision for NASA to focus not on their past glories, but on building a sustainable space exploration program that can inspire all of us. Today’s decision has laid the ground for the future Apple, Cisco and Google of space to be born, drive job creation and open the cosmos for the rest of us.”
In the proposal, NASA will spend billions of dollars to purchase commercial human launch services and invest in game changing technologies. That investment will create more jobs dollar-for-dollar as the government’s investment will be leveraged by the millions infused from private companies.
By embracing competition, capitalism and entrepreneurship, the industry has an opportunity to fuel significant growth such as that which the X PRIZE Foundation created with the Ansari X PRIZE in 2004 and is creating with today’s $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE.
When SpaceShipOne touched down on October 4, 2004 and won the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE, a new billion dollar industry was born and spaceflight was no longer viewed as the exclusive realm of governments. Led by famed aerospace designer Burt Rutan and backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Mojave Aerospace Ventures was the first private team to build and launch a spacecraft capable of carrying three people to 100 kilometers above the earth’s surface twice within two weeks. Now SpaceShipOne is hanging in the Smithsonian and its technology is being used to propel Virgin Galactic on its mission to make commercial spaceflight a reality.
Today 20 teams are feverishly working toward the capture of the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE. They are developing new technologies and envisioning solutions to challenges that weren’t even on the horizon before the PRIZE launched in 2007. Their ultimate goal is to become the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon, travel 500 meters and transmit video, images and data back to the Earth. There is no doubt that at least one of them will succeed, spawning a second wave of entrepreneurship and investment in commercial spaceflight and exploration.
Today’s decision marks the path toward a new era of innovation, one that will drive imaginations, create scores of new high-tech jobs and empower a generation of scientists to take on one of the most exciting challenges of our time, spaceflight. Diamandis and other members of the X PRIZE team are available to comment on the future of space exploration and how today’s decision will change the technology landscape.