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Elon Musk Wins $250K Heinlein Prize

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
June 20, 2011
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Elon Musk of SpaceX and Art Dula of The Heinlein Prize Trust


For the man who has everything, including his own rocketship, even more….

HEINLEIN PRIZE TRUST PR — Trustees of the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust announced today that the second-ever Heinlein Prize will go to Elon Musk, founder, CEO and CTO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX).

The Heinlein Prize honors the memory of Robert A. Heinlein, a renowned American science fiction author. The purpose of the prize is to encourage and reward individuals for making practical contributions to the commercialization of space. Mr. Musk will be honored at a luncheon and award ceremony on June 29, 2011 at the Hyatt in Washington, DC and will receive $250,000, a gold Heinlein Medallion, the Lady Vivamus Sword (as described in Heinlein’s book Glory Road), and a Laureate’s Diploma.

“Through SpaceX, Elon Musk has achieved historic feats of aerospace engineering, but just as important is his success in developing a commercial market,” said Art Dula, trustee and literary executor of the Heinlein Estate. “SpaceX has signed numerous satellite launch agreements in recent months including the largest single commercial launch contract ever executed with Iridium.”

“This is a true honor,” said Mr. Musk. “Heinlein is one of my favorite authors and ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’ was a formative book for me in my youth. I’d like to sincerely thank the Heinlein Trust for their recognition.”

SpaceX’s first rocket, the Falcon 1, was developed entirely with private funding.  Launched successfully into orbit in September 2008, it provided the foundation for the Falcon family of rockets.  SpaceX plans to carry cargo and astronauts to and from low Earth orbit in the coming years aboard the Falcon 9.

Editor’s Note: I’m a bit skeptical about this prize. It seems like the group is giving a lot of money to someone who already has a lot of money. Meanwhile, the foundation’s annual contributions to up-and-coming entrepreneurs are fairly low: $15,000 for the Rice Business Plan Competition and another $5,000 for the upcoming business plan competition at News Space 2011. Musk’s award is equivalent to more than 12 years of the foundation’s business prize awards.

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