1 October 2003
- General (Good)
More Than Money
Prizes provide motivation for success
by Carol Pinchefsky
by Carol Pinchefsky

With five space shuttles built and two lost, even the most near-sighted of bureaucrats recognize a 40% failure rate when they see it. At a recent senate committee meeting, Senator Sam Brownback, R-Kan, suggested that it's time to "scuttle the shuttle and move on to the next technology." NASA's hope for the future is the Orbital Space Plane, but it should not see the light of day until 2010.

Fortunately, Peter Diamandis, Chairman of the X-Prize foundation says,
``We expect to have a winner within the next nine to 12 months."

There's far more to the X-Prize than a US$10 million reward. Winning means that determined scientists and engineers have a chance to imprint the future of commercial spaceflight with their own stamp before NASA's newest project makes it past the design stage. Their efforts will be rewarded with great personal satisfaction: to do with a small budget and limited manpower what no government could.

Now the estate of Robert Heinlein, author, and his widow Virginia has offered a prize of $500,000 to "an individual or individuals for practical accomplishments in the field of commercial space activities." The recipient of the award will receive worldwide recognition due him/her and the acknowledgment and respect of the peers who voted.

The X-Prize and the Heinlein prize mean more than money--but of course it's a terrific incentive.
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Carol Pinchefsky 1 October 2003
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