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X Prize Gets Investment and New Name.
The privately funded X Prize received a helpful boost this week with a large investment from entrepreneurs Anousheh and Amir Ansari. The unspecified amount of money will be used to cover operation costs of the organization, including the insurance money that's backing the $10 million prize. The name of the prize has been changed to the Ansari X Prize, to recognize their contribution. 26 teams have registered to win the prize, which expires on January 1, 2005, if nobody can send their privately-built spacecraft into suborbital flight.
Entrepreneurs Anousheh Ansari and Amir Ansari, today announced a multimillion dollar contribution to the X PRIZE Foundation which runs an international competition among private spaceships designed to fly the general public into space. On this day, the 43rd anniversary of Astronaut Alan Shepard's suborbital flight into space, the X PRIZE competition is being renamed the ANSARI X PRIZE Competition to reflect the newly-established title sponsorship. The ANSARI X PRIZE is modeled after the $25,000 Orteig Prize won by Charles Lindbergh in 1927 for his historic flight from New York to Paris.
The ANSARI X PRIZE will award $10 million to the first private organization to build and fly a ship that can carry three passengers 100 km (62 miles) into space, return safely to Earth and repeat the launch with the same ship within two weeks. Both flights must be completed by January 1st, 2005. The competition has been endorsed by leading space and aviation organizations around the world and includes the vision to jump-start the commercialization of space travel and industry the same way that Orteig Prize opened today's commercial airways.
Space exploration has always been a childhood dream for both Anousheh and brother-in-law Amir, who were born in Iran. "As a child I looked at the stars and dreamed of being able to travel into space," said Anousheh, an avid space enthusiast. "As an adult, I understand that the only way this dream will become a reality is with the participation of private industry and the creative passion of smart entrepreneurs. The ANSARI X PRIZE provides the perfect vehicle to ignite the imagination and passion of fellow entrepreneurs, giving them and their courageous pilots a platform for success."
Currently, 26 teams from seven nations around the world have registered to compete. Several teams have already conducted successful test launches and plan to announce their competition launches within the next few months.
"The vision for the X PRIZE Foundation and the ANSARI X PRIZE competition began in May 1996 with the support of the business leaders from the St. Louis Community," said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, X PRIZE Foundation Chairman and Founder. "My dream, along with Anousheh and Amir, has been to open space travel to the public. With profound thanks to the Ansari family, we have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. The ANSARI X PRIZE Teams are creating a multitude of different designs specifically for public access. One of these unique designs will win in the months ahead and many others will go on to offer commercial services."
In March 2004 the X PRIZE Foundation also announced a Presenting Sponsorship from Champ Car World Series, the leading open-wheel race car series. The competition has room for two remaining major sponsorships which will provide a company with its logo on all the competing spaceships, hospitality and a variety of other benefits.
About Anousheh Ansari
Anousheh Ansari is a co-founder of venture capital firm Prodea, Inc. Mrs. Ansari co-founded telecom technologies, inc. (tti), a supplier of softswitch-based solutions for network and service providers in 1993, which was acquired by Sonus Networks in 2000. She was listed in the Fortune magazine's "40 Under 40" in 2001, recognized by Working Woman magazine as the winner of the 2000 National Entrepreneurial Excellence award and was chosen as the winner of the 1999 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Southwest Region, for the Technology and Communications category.
About Amir Ansari
Amir Ansari is a co-founder of venture capital firm, Prodea, Inc. Mr. Ansari co-founded telecom technologies, inc. and served as the CTO for the company prior to its acquisition by Sonus Networks. He has filed several patents in the area of Voice over IP and is currently sitting on the Board of Directors of several technology companies.
About the X PRIZE Foundation
The X PRIZE Foundation is a not-for-profit educational organization with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. Supported by private donations and the St. Louis community, the Foundation's mission is to create educational programming for students and space enthusiasts as well as provide incentives in the private sector to make space travel frequent and affordable for the general public. Several additional sponsorships for the ANSARI X PRIZE competition remain available to corporations or individuals who wish to support the X PRIZE Foundation and associate themselves with space, speed and high technology.
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