Thetrustees of the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust have announced thefirst winner of the Heinlein Prize: Dr. Peter H. Diamandis. Dr. Diamandis willreceive a $500,000 award, a gold Heinlein medallion and a replica of the LadyVivamus sword (from Heinlein's novel GloryRoad) at a ceremony to be held in Houston, Texas on July 7,2006.
Dr. Diamandis is a leaderin the area of commercial space exploration. In the past twenty-five years hehas started more than a dozen space organizations. In 1980, he founded theStudents for the Exploration and Development in Space; it is now the largeststudent-based space organization in the world. The best-known of these isprobably the X Prize Foundation; its $10 million Ansari X Prize helped tojumpstart the commercial spaceflight industry.
At first, Diamandis wantedto be a NASA astronaut; over time, he committed himself to the idea ofcommercial space exploration (as opposed to national efforts). Dr. Diamandisremarks "I believe opening the space frontier is critical for the futureof humanity, and making space a viable commercial endeavor is paramount toopening this frontier."
Diamandis himself is areader and fan of Heinlein's work:
"Thereis no question that Heinlein's work has inspired and driven me during mycareer. His novella, The Man who Sold the Moon, is my favorite story. In fact,I flew it as personal cargo aboard SpaceShipOne during the winning Ansari XPRIZE flight on October 4th, 2004." (TheHeinlein Prize)
The Heinlein prize honorsthe memory of science fiction Grandmaster Robert Heinlein; the prize serves toencourage and reward progress in commercial space activity that advancesHeinlein's dream of humanity in space. As Heinlein wrote (1972):
"Weare at a cusp, a decision point. We can decide to go one way, to the stars, andenjoy unlimited opportunities, unimagined possibilities, endless evolution, andeternal racial life. Or we can refuse the challenge, stay where we are -- anddie."
Heinlein was responsiblefor bringing many original ideas to science fiction, including suchdown-to-earth ideas as the tumblebug (whichanticipated the Segway scooter), the waldo(telefactoring devices) and the waterbed (the'60's creator of the waterbed was denied a patent due to Heinlein's prior art).
(This Science Fiction inthe News story used with permission from Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction.)