Launching a new space industry
The $10 million Ansari XPRIZE was designed to lower the risk and cost of going to space by incentivizing the creation of a reliable, reusable, privately financed, crewed spaceship that finally made private space travel commercially viable.
On October 4, 2004, XPRIZE captured the world's attention by awarding the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE—the largest prize in history—to Mojave Aerospace Ventures for their SpaceShipOne. Led by famed aerospace designer Burt Rutan and his company Scaled Composites, with financial backing from Paul Allen, the team's winning technology was licensed by Richard Branson to create Virgin Galactic. With the awarding of this competition, a brand-new $2 billion private space industry was launched.
The Grand Challenge
The possibility of space tourism was considered too dangerous and too expensive for the general public and space exploration for the private sector was neither possible nor affordable.
How They Won
In 1919, hotelier Raymond Orteig offered $25,000 to the first aviator to conduct a nonstop flight between New York and Paris. Innovation was key, as the technology to do so had not been developed yet. Charles Lindbergh won the prize in 1927, while setting new records in aviation with his plane the Spirit of St. Louis. Lindbergh's transatlantic journey forever changed the way the world viewed air travel.
Seventy years later, Peter Diamandis set out to affect a similar change in space travel. Inspired by Lindbergh’s story and committed to making space travel safer, more sustainable, and commercially viable, he launched the first XPRIZE from the same table at which earlier visionaries had donated to Lindbergh’s cause. Later donations by the Ansari family brought XPRIZE’s total prize to $10M - the largest incentive prize in history, at the time.
The rest is history.