Tag: Peter Diamandis

Stu Witt Retires From Mojave Spaceport in Style

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Stu Witt (center) stands with Congressman Kevin McCarthy, X Prize Chairman Peter Diamandis, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides and others in front of a replica of SpaceShipOne. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Stu Witt (center) stands with Congressman Kevin McCarthy, X Prize Chairman Peter Diamandis, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides and others in front of a replica of SpaceShipOne. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

They came to Mojave from near and far — from the dusty desert communities of Lancaster, Boron and Ridgecrest to the snow swept tundra of Sweden — to send Stu Witt off in style. One of the most powerful men in Washington, D.C. played hooky from Congress to wish his friend a happy retirement.

Hundreds of people gathered on Jan. 8 to mark the end of Witt’s nearly 14-year term as CEO and general manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port. The event featured a reception and a long parade of friends and colleagues singing his praises.

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Missing the Significance of Blue Origin’s Landing Milestone

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It has occurred to me in recent days that the significance Blue Origin’s landing of its New Shepard rocket and capsule last month has been totally misconstrued by the public, press and most of the commentators on this blog. Now, I don’t really blame them for this; I blame Jeff Bezos.

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The Promise of Spaceport America in the Words of its Supporters

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Sir Richard Branson and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Sir Richard Branson and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

“This business will mark a milestone in world history, and it will launch a new space industry — a private space industry, driven by innovators and entrepreneurs and new technologies and bold thinkers.”
— Richard Branson

“What we are calling the second space age will open up a wide range of commercial opportunities, including point-to-point cargo delivery, with personal and business travel.”
— Gov. Bill Richardson

Ten years ago today, Virgin Galactic and New Mexico announced a deal for development what became known as Spaceport America. New Mexico would built a $225-million spaceport with taxpayer’s dollars in the desert near Truth or Consequences. Sir Richard Branson’s new space company would sign a 20-year lease to fly tourists aboard SpaceShipTwo from the facility beginning in 2008.  New Mexico also expected the spaceport to be used by UP Aerospace, Starchaser Industries, and Peter Diamandis’ Rocket Racing League and X Prize Cup.

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Diamandis Raising $200 Million for Venture Capital Fund

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Peter Diamandis

X PRIZE Founder Peter Diamandis is attempting to raise $200 million for a new venture capital fund that will target exponential technology companies, according to a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Diamandis is co-founder of the Singularity University, which focuses on exponential technology development.

The filing for Bold Capital Partners, L.P., lists three other executives involved in the limited partnership. They include:

  • Teymour Boutros-Ghali, co-founder and managing partner of Monitor Ventures. A nephew of former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, he was founder and CEO of AllBusiness (acquired by NBC), Zowie Intertainment (sold to LEGO), and Thrive Online (acquired by AOL).
  • Neal Bhadkamkar, co-founder and managing partner of Monitor Ventures. Bhadkamkar previously served as VP of Manufacturing and Engineering at Zowie Intertainment and headed up the commercialization process at Interval Research, which is Paul Allen’s research and commercialization company.
  • Emilio Diez Barroso, a Mexican-American businessman who is chairman and CEO of NALA Investments, which has holdings in communications, energy, transportation, consumer products, real estate, technology and media.

Planetary Resources Raises $12 Million in Financing

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planetary_resourcesPlanetary Resources has raised $12.2 million in new financing as part of an offering of $20 million, according to a company filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The funding came from 16 unnamed investors.

The Redmond, Wash., company is focused on mining asteroids. It was co-founded by Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson.

Mojave Journal: The Ansari X Prize’s Awkward Family Reunion

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Ansari X Prize 10th anniversary panel discussion on Oct. 4, 2014.

Ansari X Prize 10th anniversary panel discussion on Oct. 4, 2014.

One Year Ago, the Ansari X Prize Turned 10
It Was an Uncomfortable Birthday

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The planes kept coming and coming. One after another, they swooped out of a blue desert sky and touched down on the runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port. By mid-morning there were at least a dozen private jets stretched along the flight line running east from the Voyager restaurant toward the control tower. And even more were on their way.

And to what did Mojave owe this ostentatious display of wealth by the 1 percenters? They had come to the sun-splashed spaceport last Oct. 4 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ansari X Prize. A decade earlier, Burt Rutan and his Paul Allen-funded team had won $10 million for sending the first privately-built manned vehicle into space twice within a two-week period.

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The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be: SpaceShipOne & the Triumph of Hype

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Mike Melvill stands atop SpaceShipOne after a suborbital flight on Sept. 29, 2004. (Credit: RenegadeAven)

Mike Melvill stands atop SpaceShipOne after a suborbital flight on Sept. 29, 2004. (Credit: RenegadeAven)

Eleven years ago today, Brian Binnie flew SpaceShipOne to  an altitude  of 112.014 km (69.6 miles),  breaking a record of 107.8 km (67 miles) set by Joe Walker in the X-15 rocket plane 41 years earlier. As Binnie landed the small, experimental space plane at the Mojave Air and Space Port before a cheering crowd, he clinched the $10 million Ansari X Prize for Burt Rutan and his financial backer, Paul Allen.

The air during the post flight events was full of promises, boasts and hopes that today appear positively cringe worthy.

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Google Lunar X Prize Down to the Sweet 16

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The moon rising over Half Moon Bay, California on Halloween 2009. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The moon rising over Half Moon Bay, California on Halloween 2009. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

With an end-of-the-year deadline looming for the Google Lunar X Prize to continue, the $30 million competition to land a private rover on the moon has shrunk in half to 16 teams from the original 33 or 34 (more on that later).

At least one of the teams has to demonstrate that it has a firm launch contract in place by Dec. 31 for the competition to continue.  If at least one team can show a contract this year, then the remaining teams in the competition will have until the end of 2016 to secure contracts in order to stay in the race.

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Google Lunar X Prize Update: Funding Remains an Issue

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MTV-1X vehicle in full tether mode. (Credit: Moon Express)

MTV-1X vehicle in full tether mode. (Credit: Moon Express)

The IEEE Spectrum has an interesting update on the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize, which recently slipped its deadline for landing a rover on the moon from the end of 2015 to Dec. 31, 2016.

The story confirms what I’ve suspected for quite some time now: it’s much easier to build and test hardware on Earth than it is to get it to the lunar surface. With two years, not one of the 18 remaining teams has locked down a firm launch date. If none of them does by the end of 2015, the competition will end without a winner.

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What Scaled, Virgin & Peter Diamandis Said After Last Fatal SpaceShipTwo Program Accident

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Part of SpaceShipTwo's fuselage. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Part of SpaceShipTwo’s fuselage. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The crash of SpaceShipTwo and the tragic loss of Scaled Composites test pilot Mike Alsbury were stark reminders that despite all the promises about the safety of new space tourism vehicles, space travel is a dangerous business where death can come in seconds.

If outsiders were stunned by the tragedy, it had a sickeningly familiar feel to long-time Mojave denizens. Mike Alsbury was not the first Scaled employee to die developing SpaceShipTwo for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceline. He was the fourth. Three engineers preceded him seven years earlier in a horrific accident at the Mojave spaceport.

The  2007 tragedy was quite different from the one that occurred over Jawbone Canyon on Halloween. The response to it was both different and eerily familiar.

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Ansari X Prize 10th Anniversary Webcast

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The Ansari X Prize 10th anniversary webcast from Saturday featuring Burt Rutan, Anousheh Ansari, Chuck Beames, Brian Binnie, Mike Melvill, Richard Branson and Peter Diamandis.

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

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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.

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Ansari X Prize 10th Anniversary Celebration Webcast

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Mike Melvill stands atop SpaceShipOne after a suborbital flight on Sept. 29, 2004. (Credit: RenegadeAven)

Mike Melvill stands atop SpaceShipOne after a suborbital flight on Sept. 29, 2004. (Credit: RenegadeAven)

ANSARI XPRIZE 10th ANNIVERSARY WEBCAST
Saturday, October 4, 2014
4:00 to 5:30 p.m. EDT
(1:00 to 2:30 p.m. PDT)

Host: Peter Diamandis, XPRIZE Founder and CEO

Guests

Anousheh Ansari
Ansari X Prize benefactor

Chuck Beames
Executive Director, Stratolaunch

Brian Binnie
SpaceShipOne’s pilot for the prize winning flight

Mike Melvill
SpaceShipOne’s pilot for the first record-breaking flight

Burt Rutan
SpaceShipOne designer

Richard Branson
Founder, Virgin Group

Additional Details

X Prize Foundation Cashes in 10th Anniversary of SpaceShipOne Flights

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Peter Diamandis

The X Prize Foundation has found several ways to cash in on the 10th anniversary of the winning of the $10 million Ansari X Prize next week.

In addition to offering $2,500 tickets to the anniversary luncheon next Saturday in Mojave, the organization has organized an exclusive four-day, $40,000 per person tour around the event.

“Take confidence in the fact that XPRIZE Chairman, Peter Diamandis, is personally curating these four days to make it one of the most extraordinary trips of your life!” the X Prize’s exclaims!

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Ansari X Prize 10th Anniversary Shindig Set for Mojave

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SpaceShipOne lands after its historic spaceflight on June 21, 2004. (Credit: Ian Kluft)

SpaceShipOne lands after its historic spaceflight on June 21, 2004. (Credit: Ian Kluft)

Burt Rutan, Paul Allen and Richard Branson are among those who will gather at the Mojave Air and Space Port on Oct. 4 to mark the 10th anniversary of SpaceShipOne winning the $10 million Anari X Prize, Parabolic Arc has learned.

X Prize Foundation Chairman and CEO Peter Diamandis will preside over the invitation-only event, which is expected to draw hundreds of guests. The foundation sponsored the prize for the first privately-funded vehicle to fly into space twice in two weeks.

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