X PRIZE Foundation

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The X PRIZE Foundation is a non-profit prize foundation that designs and manages public competitions for the benefit of industry and humanity as a whole.

X PRIZE Foundation
Founded 1995 by Dr. Peter Diamandis
Location Playa Vista, California, USA



The X PRIZE Foundation is the brainchild of Dr. Peter Diamandis, on the principle that focused and talented teams in pursuit of a prize and acclaim can, through their "ambition", change the world for the better.

The notion of the X PRIZE Foundation was sown in 1994, when Gregg E. Maryniak gave Diamandis a copy of The Spirit of St. Louis, written by Charles Lindbergh. The book inspired him to develop a similar prize to the Orteig prize that Lindbergh was awarded for crossing the Atlantic in an aircraft, orientated instead at space exploration and development. In 1995, Diamandis established the X PRIZE Foundation with the assistance of Byron K. Lichtenberg, Colette M. Bevis and Gregg E. Maryniak. The Foundation received early funding from Tom Rogers and John McLucas and was initially headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. The concept of the X PRIZE was first announced in the pages of Ad Astra Magazine (National Space Society).

On May 18th, 1996, the first X PRIZE competition was started. It was later, in May 2004, officially re-named the Ansari X PRIZE to reflect a generous multi-million dollar donation from the Ansari family. Later that same year, on October 4, 2004, the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE was awarded to Mojave Aerospace Ventures for the flight of SpaceShipOne.


The mission of the X PRIZE Foundation is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. The Foundation fosters innovative, high-profile competitions that motivate individuals across all boundaries to solve grand challenges. The prizes are worth millions of dollars and capture the imagination of the public to draw attention to the goal.

The prizes are modeled after the Orteig Prize which offered $25,000 in 1919 for the first non-stop flight between New York and Paris. This prize was won by Charles Lindbergh in 1927 which changed the aviation industry forever.

X Prizes are attempting to create revolutions in Energy/Environment, Education, Life Science, Global Entrepreneurship, and Exploration.



Ansari X PRIZE

The Ansari X PRIZE was a space competition in which the X PRIZE Foundation offered a US$10,000,000 prize for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks.

The prize was won on October 4, 2004, the 47th anniversary of the Sputnik 1 launch, by the Tier One project designed by Burt Rutan and financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, using the experimental spaceplane SpaceShipOne.

Progressive Automotive X PRIZE

The goal of the Automotive X PRIZE was to inspire a new generation of viable, super-efficient vehicles to help break our addiction to oil and stem the effects of climate change. Teams will compete for multi-million-dollar cash prizes by designing and building super-efficient vehicles that will achieve 100 MPG (2.35 L/100 km) that are commercially viable.

Multiple winners were announced for the Progressive Automotive X Prize:

  • Team Edison2 won the $5 million Mainstream competition with its four-passenger Very Light Car, obtaining 102.5 MPGe running on E85 fuel.
  • Team Li-Ion Motors won the $2.5 million Alternative Side-by-Side competition with their aerodynamic Wave-II electric vehicle achieving 187 MPGe.
  • Team X-Tracer Switzerland won the $2.5 million Alternative Tandem competition with their 205.3 MPGe faired electric motorcycle.


Archon X PRIZE for Genomics

The Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, the second X PRIZE to be offered by the X PRIZE Foundation, was announced 4 October 2006. The goal of the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics is to greatly reduce the cost and increase the speed of human genome sequencing to create a new era of personalized, predictive and preventive medicine, eventually transforming medical care from reactive to proactive. The Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, a joint effort of the X PRIZE Foundation and the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation, is a $10 million prize to be awarded to the first team to successfully sequence 100 anonymous human genomes in 10 days at a recurring cost of no more than $10,000 per genome.

Google Lunar X PRIZE

The Google Lunar X PRIZE was introduced on 13 September 2007. The goal of the prize is similar to that of the Ansari X PRIZE, to inspire a new generation of private investment in space exploration and technology. The challenge calls for teams to compete in successfully launching, landing, and operating a rover on the lunar surface. The prize awards $20 million to the first team to land a rover on the moon that successfully roves more than 500 meters and transmits back high definition images and video. There is a $5 million second prize, as well as $5 million in potential bonus prizes for extra features such as roving long distances (greater than 5,000 meters) capturing images of man-made objects on the moon, or surviving a lunar night.

Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

A competition funded by NASA's Centennial Challenges program, conducted by the X PRIZE foundation, and sponsored by Northrop Grumman. It is a competition that offers a series of prizes to teams that successfully develop vertical take off/ vertical landing rockets capable of moving from the lunar surface into lunar orbit.

The competition is held annually.

Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE

A challenge award sponsored by the Schmidt Family Foundation and inspired by the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill, offering $1million, $300,000, and a $100,000 prize for those to develop efficient methods for capturing crude oil from ocean water.


The X PRIZE Foundation has influenced, both directly and and indirectly, a myriad of new prizes across many fields of development.,

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