A Spirit Takes Flight
This past week, we lost a great friend to the XPRIZE Foundation, Patti Grace Smith. She was a pioneer of the personal spaceflight movement and a tireless advocate for all of us working to push the limits of reaching space with new ideas and new-fangled vehicles. She was the one everyone went to when they had an idea and wanted to know: "Patti, how do I get my idea launched?" Patti was a brilliant woman, a wonderfully nice person, wife, mother and grandmother - and our close friend and colleague. We will miss her.
We met Patti early in the 1990's. She headed the licensing office for all spacecraft from within the Department of Commerce, and when this office was moved to the Federal Aviation Administration within the Department of Transportation, she became Deputy Administrator. Her tireless advocacy and passion for this nascent industry made sure that we had a strong, well-respected voice within government. In 2005, she helped us work with Congress to refine legislation permitting private individuals to fly to space - opening up the way for suborbital and orbital private space transportation. When she left government service, her brilliant mind helped many startups maneuver their way into space.
We hope that one of the spaceships soon ready to go to space will have Patti's name on it because we know she will be guiding it safely to space - her next journey of discovery. We forget when these rockets launch and awe us with their glory of flight to remember the people who made it happen. Patti is at the front of that line.
In the famous poem so often spoken when we lose pilots and space travelers, Patti has "slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God."
Godspeed Patti Grace Smith.