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From Space to Energy: Changing the World. For Good.

10/27/2005 12:00 pm E51-345
Peter H. Diamandis, '83, SM' 88, Chairman and CEO; The X Prize Foundation

Description: What does it take to achieve the impossible? The lure of a lucrative payoff or of worldwide fame, and a talented team who simply say, "Enough is enough, we're going to change things." That's the perspective of Diamandis and the X Prize Foundation, whose original $10-million award went to Bert Rutan's SpaceShipOne, which on October 4, 2004, became the first private manned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 100 km twice in as many weeks. The X Prize Foundation's goal is to make space flight a near-commonplace human activity. NASA's current costs to launch each shuttle run $1 billion. Diamandis imagines it should cost "100 bucks per person in the future on a space elevator, or through some breakthroughs in physics." Commercial ventures will help drive this revolution -- whether they are rides on the Soyuz craft, or the acquisition of vast mineral resources in space. A small asteroid, Diamandis notes, is worth "20 trillion dollars in the platinum group metal marketplace".

While the X Prize Foundation believes "human destiny is in space," it also aims to achieve comparable breakthroughs on earth, deploying cash rewards and generating an international buzz around conquering such global problems as the environment and energy. You put up a prize to get "unconstrained thinking," says Diamandis, and you create inspiration and hope, as people "risk everything for something they believe in."

About the Speaker(s): Peter H. Diamandis also serves as the Chairman of Zero Gravity Corporation, a commercial space company developing private, FAA-certified parabolic flight. He was a co-founder of Space Adventures. In 1987, Diamandis co-Founded the International Space University (ISU) where he served as the University's first Program Director and Trustee. Prior to ISU, Diamandis served as Chairman of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) an organization he founded at MIT in 1980. Diamandis received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in aerospace engineering from MIT, and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He has conducted research in a number of fields, including molecular genetics, space medicine, and launch vehicle design. Diamandis' awards include MIT's Kresge Award, the 1986 Space Industrialization Fellowship, the 1988 Aviation Week & Space Technology Laurel, the 1993 Space Frontier Pioneer Award, and the Russian 1995 K. E. Tsiolkovsky Award.

Host(s): Sloan School of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management

Tape #: T20460

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MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

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