X PRIZE’s Peter Diamandis to Talk in Phoenix


The MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Enterprise Forum of Phoenix will host an extraordinary event, Rewarding Breakthrough Innovation, on June 4, 2009, at the Arizona Science Center where Arizona business leaders and community members will meet the key figure in the development of the personal spaceflight industry, Dr. Peter H. Diamandis. He will be sharing his experiences, vision and passion for having created many space-related businesses and organizations including the X PRIZE Foundation, the Rocket Racing League, Zero Gravity Corporation, Singularity University and Space Adventures, Ltd.


The X Prize as a Model for Venture Capital

Behind the Prize at the X Prize: A New Model For Venture Capital

At a time when many people are saying the traditional venture capital model is broken, an influential Internet pioneer has developed a fundamentally different concept for investing in innovation.


Less American Science, More American Idol?

Should American Science Be More Like “American Idol”?
Discover Magazine

Diamandis, though, is aiming for a still bigger breakthrough: a breakthrough in the way we achieve breakthroughs. Ever the evangelist, he spent one evening between the Google and Clinton announcements pitching his vision to a hundred or so Holly­wood heavyweights gathered in the home of the socialite, pundit, and Web media entrepreneur Arianna Huffington.


Pomerantz: X Prize Spurring Considerable Level of Parallel Tech Innovation

Caution: Innovation in Progress
William Pomerantz
The Launch Pad

One of the biggest advantages of incentive prizes like those we run here at the X PRIZE Foundation is that they allow an enormous amount of parallel innovation. In most traditional forms of research and development, the innovating body–the lab, the scientist, the company, the agency, the manager, whatever–has to perform some trade studies and down-select to a small number of research avenues they determine to be the most likely avenues to yield the desired results. That’s by no means a mistake–that’s sound management and efficient allocation of resources. But often, those decisions end up ruling out potential avenues that may in fact have the highest yield–because they also carry the highest risk of failure.

By contrast, when an incentive prize is offered, an entire ‘innovation ecosystem’ is set up, wherein a much larger group of those research avenues will be pursued by one or multiple competing teams. In this fashion, a lot of theory can be tested in practice, and the entire industry can learn lessons not only from the eventual winners of the prize, but from all of the competing teams.

Diamandis Looking for $1 Billion from Gulf Investors for New Space, Life Sciences Prizes

Gulf investors in talks over ‘world changing’ contest
Arabian Business

Gulf investors are in talks over a series of $100 million contests that will aim to foster “world-changing” breakthroughs in fields such as space exploration and life sciences.

Negotiations planned for February could see a total of $1 billion being offered to encourage inventors to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

Peter Diamandis, chairman of the US-based X-Prize Foundation, which would manage the scheme on behalf of the investors, told CEO Middle East: “The amount of wealth that is concentrated in the hands of individuals is growing extremely rapidly, and what we want to do is offer them a different tool for changing the world for the better.”

X Prize Puts Forth Plan to Re-establish NASA’s Global Leadership

The X Prize has put forth a 7-point plan to re-establish NASA as the world’s leading space agency. It’s a broad-ranging effort that includes the following initiatives:

  • Engage the Private Community
  • Use Risk as a Tool
  • Attract and Retain the Best Workers
  • Help America Benefit from the Global Space Community
  • Take the Lead Where Only NASA Can
  • Leverage Incentive Prizes
  • Inspire the Nation, and the World.

You can read the full document on the Obama-Biden transition website. Peter Diamandis has written a somewhat shorter version of it for The Huffington Post.

Diamandis: Prizes Can Resolve Some of “World’s Greatest Challenges”

Can X Prizes Spur Innovation?
Business Week

“But as contests have proliferated, so, too, have questions about their ability to push forward the boundaries of technology. Are they better at yielding breakthroughs than traditional research and development? Can Lotto-size payouts solve monstrously complex problems? Or are they a fad that stokes vanity-driven entrepreneurs focused on smaller-scale challenges?

“[Peter] Diamandis, not surprisingly, predicts that cash competitions will resolve some of ‘the world’s grand challenges.’ When he proposed a prize for space travel, he recalls, ‘a lot of people also told me it was a stupid idea and that no one could win it.’ But he concedes there are problems that you can’t simply ‘throw a prize at.’

And at least some scientists see contests as ultimately immaterial in their fields. Richard Gibbs, director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, notes that researchers have made huge advances in understanding DNA without the lure of a sweepstakes. ‘The X Prize is cute,’ he says, ‘but is not really the driver.’ Still, he and others say what’s the harm if contests generate excitement about science.”

Annual Event for $2 Million Lunar X Prize No Longer Affordable for X Prize, Contestants

The X Prize Foundation announced today that it can no longer afford to hold an annual event for competitors in the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Challenge.  (Tip of the hat to Hobby Space for finding it.)

“Moving forward, the concept of conducting a large common event at which all teams fly their vehicles is likely not financially sustainable for the Foundation,” the non-profit group said in a note from Peter Diamandis and Will Pomerantz. 


Google Lunar X Prize Preferred Providers Offer Variety of Discounts

I’ve got the skinny on the various discounts that preferred providers are offering for the Google Lunar X Prize:

  • SpaceX : 10% Discount on all Falcon LVs
  • Universal Space Networks: Offering 50% discount on communication services (passes) for the spacecraft while in transit to the Moon and for 30 Earth Days of operations on the lunar surface.
  • SETI: Free downlink services through the Allen Telescope Array
  • Space Florida: $2M Bonus Prize if winner launches from Florida
  • AGI: Free seat license for STK (>$150,000 value).

This comes courtesy of X Prize Foundation Executive Director Bretton Alexander, who made a presentation to the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) on October 30.

Call Your Travel Agent: Lunar Competition is Back On

For all of those who canceled your travel plans for New Mexico, it’s time to rebook those tickets. Cosmic Log’s Alan Boyle has the scope:

“First it was on, then it was in limbo, and now it’s on again: The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, a $2 million NASA-backed competition for rocket-powered lander prototypes, is now due to take place Oct. 24 and 25 at Las Cruces International Airport in New Mexico.

“The contest had been scheduled elsewhere in the state, at Holloman Air Force Base, reprising last year’s setting. That venue was ruled out, however, reportedly due to some military operations that took precedence. After weeks of scrambling, the Lunar Lander Challenge’s organizers at the X Prize Foundation worked out new arrangements this week with the Las Cruces airport as well as the Federal Aviation Administration.”

Read Alan’s full post here.

Ten Teams to Compete in 2008 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge


The X PRIZE Foundation today announced that ten teams will compete in the 2008 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, which will take place at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico, October 24-25, 2008. The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge is a two-level, two million dollar competition requiring a vehicle to simulate trips between the moon’s surface and lunar orbit.

Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, said, “Once again, we have excellent teams prepared to compete in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. We are excited to see new teams join the competition, and I am confident that we will give away prize money this year. We are also delighted to have Northrop Grumman back as our title sponsor. This is the third year Northrop Grumman has supported the Lunar Lander Challenge; they are a valued partner and we would like to thank them for their continued enthusiasm.”

“Northrop Grumman is delighted to once again sponsor the Lunar Lander Challenge, an undertaking that typifies the spirit of U.S. leadership in innovation, entrepreneurism, and human space exploration,” said Robert Davis, director of the company’s space systems business development. “The competition continues to produce discoveries and dialogues that add critical bits of momentum to the Nation’s space program. We applaud and appreciate the contributions of every entrant to this process.”


X Prize Updates: BT Provides Operating Funds; Diamandis Gets All Steve Austiny

The X Prize Foundation has secured $7 million in operating funding from British Telecom (BT), Cosmic Log’s Alan Boyle reports. Founder Peter Diamandis tells Boyle the funding allows the non-profit to broaden its programs beyond its current U.S.-centric focus.

Diamandis had some kind words for John McCain’s proposal for a $300 million battery prize. He also talked extensively about plans for future prizes, including ones in health care, environment, and human genetic engineering. One idea involves involves giving the handicapped what they’ve always dreamed of: a chance to play the world’s most frustrating sport.

“Also in life sciences, we’re looking at human longevity, and what we internally call ‘the bionic man,’ the challenge to give a quadriplegic the ability to play a round of golf,” Diamandis said.

BT and the X PRIZE Foundation Team Up to Inspire World-Changing Innovations
X Prize News Release

Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE Releases Statement in Response to Senator McCain’s Proposed $300 Million Battery Prize
X Prize News Release


Parabolas: COTS Review, VC Cash Buoys Space Tourism, ISDC Report & Diamandis Interview

COTS Review In Final Stages
Jefferson Morris
Aviation Week & Space Technology

“NASA is in the final stages of vetting a review on the feasibility of accelerating the crew transport portion of its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, according to Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Rick Gilbrech.

“NASA is funding SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp. to develop cargo capability for the International Space Station (ISS) under COTS, but so far has held off on greenlighting the crew transfer portion of the program, known as “COTS D.” Only SpaceX has been actively working on a COTS D concept, with Orbital focused exclusively on cargo at this point.”

VC Cash in Tow, Space Tourist Biz Moves Beyond Early Adopters
Glenn Reynolds
Popular Mechanics

“Space tourism has attracted over $1.2 billion in investment, mostly from individual “angel investors,” of which only about 25 percent has been spent. Revenues last year were $268 million, up from $175 million the year before.”

Space: Tourism May Hold Key To Making ‘Space Faring’ A Reality
Taylor Dinerman
Radio Free Europe

“More than 1,000 men and women from around the planet gathered in Washington, D.C., recently to explore the idea that the future of the human race is not confined to this world alone. They came together for the 27th-annual International Space Development Conference (ISDC), sponsored by the National Space Society (NSS).”

Incentive Prizes: Shooting for the Stars
Rachael King
Business Week

“Taking his cue from Lindbergh’s famous prize-winning moment, Peter Diamandis fulfilled his dream to send people into space through his X Prize. BusinessWeek.com writer Rachael King recently spoke with Peter Diamandis about incentive prizes and why they work.”

Lunar Lander Challenge Set for October in New Mexico


The X PRIZE Foundation has announced that the 2008 Lunar Lander Challenge will take place at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico, October 24-25, 2008.

“We are excited about going back to Holloman Air Force Base to conduct the Lunar Lander Challenge this year,” said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, X Prize Chairman and CEO. “We are thankful for the continued support from the state of New Mexico for private spaceflight.

“The Lunar Lander Challenge is a perfect showcase for the talent and innovation coming from the entrepreneurs who will eventually fly from New Mexico’s Spaceport America. Lunar Lander Challenge teams are ready to fly and we are confident that this is the year someone will win the competition,” he added.

The $2 million Lunar Lander Challenge – which the X Prize manages for NASA – is a two-level competition requiring a vehicle to simulate trips between the Moon’s surface and lunar orbit. The vehicle must fly to an altitude of 50 meters, translate to a landing pad 100 meters away, land safely, and then return following the same path. Two levels have been defined: one with smooth landing pads, the other with a replica lunar surface as an additional difficulty.


(Ne)X(t) Prizes: Cancer, Oceans, and Living to 225

The Space Prizes blog has an account of a podcast given by X Prize Founder Peter Diamandis as part of the Stanford Entrepreneurs program. Diamandis said the foundation plans to expand into the following areas:

  • deep sea exploration to map the ocean floor
  • a cancer cure prize with Lance Armstrong
  • doubling or tripling the human lifespan

The X Prize Foundation also is considering “My X Prize” competitions that would allow local groups to develop their own prize concepts.