The things we need to expand the human race are in abundant supply in space.
Let me speak about what drives us to make those things happen. Eugene Cernan, the last human on the moon as he’s jumping three feet up in the air, he said “Nothing… NOTHING is impossible” if we can do that.
Everything can be done by bringing together the right people, the right capital, and the right technology. To do something fundamentally different is very risky. Society as a whole holds us back, because the goal is to maintain the status quo. If anything can go wrong, fix it! When given a choice, take both! Start at the top and work your way up. When forced to compromise ask for more. No simply means try harder. Best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.
In 1993 I walked into the offices of the FAA and they said it will never happen. Got approval 11 years later: gozerog.com. The person I enjoyed flying the most was Stephen Hawking, it was actually against the rules to fly him, the rules said they needed able-bodied people. We got permission to fly him the day before we took off, which was very convenient. Had 4 ER docs and full emergency room set up. He holds the same chair at as Isaac Newton at Cambridge. They had planned on doing one dive, maybe two if things went really well — they ended up doing 8 parabolas. They’ve been able to change the rules and have taken up a number of wheelchair bound children since then.
Next impossible thing, met Richard Garriot, said I’d love to fly into space. Went and negotiated with the Russians to fly private citizens into the space station. To date there have been 6 customers, started at 20 million, up to 35 million dollars a pop. Sergey Brin put down a deposit on an orbital flight. The idea to create a new generation of private spaceships. I had no idea that Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic to win a price. Offered 25k to the first person to fly from New York to Paris, 9 teams spent 400k. Lindbergh was 25 years old, within 18 months of his flight passengers increased 30x, number of aircraft increased 4x, aviation stocks soar.
Aviation didn’t get easier, but that event changed what people believed was possible, it was a paradigm change. Could that bring along a new generation of private spaceships to take us into space? The X was going to be the name of the person who put up the money, eventually kept the X and called it the Ansari X Prize. 10 million dollar prize purse, privately funded teams, 3 person reusable spaceship, 100km altitude. Announced in May of 96, 26 teams spent 100 million to win the prize.
Decided to create a prize organization, the leverage of 10-40x above the prize size, and the efficiency of only paying the winners, to affect change. 10 million dollar prize ofor the first team to sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days. 30 million Lunar X prize, private robot to land on the moon. Will probably beat governments back to the surface of the moon. Progressive Automotive X Prize – to inspire a new generation of vehicles, clean production-capable vehicles that achieve at least 100 MPG. Will do races in 5-10 of the top US cities.
The X Prize Foundation has built and organized to identify the grand problems of our time. We’re looking forward to launching a couple of prizes a year. We’re focused underwater, energy and environment, life sciences “bionic human”, health care, global development and education, clean water, power, hunger. Every problem on this planet is solvable, and somewhere on this planet of 6 billion people there are folks who can make magic happen.