X Prize Foundation Grosses $1.2 Million from Ansari X Prize Anniversary Tour

We’re getting our first updates on the exclusive $40,000 per person Ansari X Prize 10th Anniversary trip being lead by X Prize Foundation Founder Peter Diamandis.

It appears as if “about 30” people signed up for the trip, grossing the X Prize Foundation about $1.2 million. The group includes W. Brett Wilson, whom Canadians will remember as having formerly starred on the CBC show Dragon’s Den, and mining magnate Rob McEwen, whom Canadians will remember as the guy who digs big holes in the ground.

Diamandis posted the above video from the group’s trip to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  The video is annoying; there’s the backup vehicle for the Mars Curiosity — the largest and most sophisticated robotic planetary rover in history, pride of a nation — and you’re sitting there hoping he’ll zoom in and give us a close-up view of it, describe its features and all the awesome things it can do. Not many people get a chance to see it up close; be our eyes and ears, please.

Instead, Diamandis’ head keeps getting in the way as he talks about how JPL needs to up its game on micro-processors and puts in a plug for all the great work he’s doing to change that situation. Yeah, OK….hie’s got a point. But, still….the processors are only one part of a very cool rover.

Participants were originally scheduled to fly weightless aboard Zero Gravity Corporation’s G-FORCE One aircraft today. However, that trip was suddenly dropped from the schedule last week after Parabolic Arc wrote about the itinerary. There are questions about whether the Boeing 727 has replaced the jet engines that a leasing company repossessed in June.

Instead, participants will be listening to the “top” teams in the Google Lunar X Prize talk about how they plan to land rovers on the moon.

  • Chief Galen Tyrol

    Did they gross $1.2 million or $120,000?

  • Douglas Messier

    Good catch, chief. Yikes!

    Cobwebs in my head this morning.

  • Sam Moore

    Do we have a list of what those ‘top’ x prize competitors were?

  • Douglas Messier

    No. I know Bob Richards of Moon Express arrived in LA last night. I can only assume they’re part of the top tier. Maybe they’re the teams that are competing for the tech milestone awards. I don’t know.

    I feel bad for the people who ponied up $40K for this trip. They were expecting parabolic flights that are sold for $5K plus tax. Instead, they get to listen to teams that are probably looking for money. Some of them anyway.

  • TimR

    Maybe they could rent a plane from the graveyard and hang a sports illustrated swimsuit model from wires to give them the sense of a zero G parabolic flight. (the thrump of a trombone as bullwinkle falls to the stage)

    Sorry, I like the X-Prize concept but their execution has seemed to have stumbled.

  • Carolynne Campbell

    Sweat not… 30 x 40,000 = 1.200,000

  • Andrew B

    I find this to be kind of a silly comparison because the reason MSL uses the processors it does is because radiation-hardened processors evolve and develop a lot more slowly than commercial units. Also larger transistors can typically handle more radiation exposure before a problem emerges, which tends to keep the radiation hardened hardware on older manufacturing processes with larger transistor sizes as a result – to meet the radiation requirements.

    The resources to develop an entire new processor would be enormous so MSL uses the RAD750 which is commonly used in many other spacecraft that operate outside of the Van Allen belts where radiation is a concern.

    For a $2.6 billion dollar mission with one-of-a-kind science you want the computer that is the center of the avionics to be slam-dunk reliable; that portion of a mission like this (which has to be reliable enough to update the software remotely from hundreds of millions of miles away) is not the right place to “try new things” to begin with – especially for 2020 with sample caching the sampling system and science instruments will have plenty of “new things” to go around. Other parts of the avionics for MSL like the motor controllers for the actuators were new designs…..