X Prize Foundation to Unveil Big Money for New Contest

Officials withthe U.S.-based X Prize Foundation will unveil plans for the largestinternational cash contest to date next week, but they are keeping details onthe new challenge under wraps.

Thespecifics on the new cash prize, which is promised to be in the "tens ofmillions of dollars" and bankrolled by "a very exciting andwell-known Fortune 500 company," will be revealed Sept. 13 at the WIREDNextFest technology fair in Los Angeles, Calif., the foundation announcedMonday.

"Theactual announcement and details on what the prize is and its sponsorship willbe released on that day," X Prize Foundation spokesperson Sarah Evans toldSPACE.com. "We're very excited and we'll share it with the world onSept. 13."

Foundationofficials said the new purse and contest will be "the largestinternational prize in history," and promised more details after theNextFest opening ceremony next week.

Led by PeterDiamandis, the Santa Monica, California-based X Prize Foundation has offereda series of cash-prize competitions to support the development of newtechnologies. Since awarding its first cash award?the $10million Ansari X Prize for privately built spacecraft?the foundation hassince broadened its mandate to include prizes for feats in the genomics and theautomotive fields.

"Wecurrently have new X Prizes in development in the areas of space, energy,medicine, education and the social arena," the foundation has stated onits Web site.

Won in2004, the Ansari X Prize marked the foundation's first contest to offer a cashaward for privately funded technological prowess. The competition called forteams to launch their homegrown, piloted spacecraft into suborbital space, analtitude of at least 62 miles (100 kilometers), twice in two weeks. MojaveAerospace Ventures, a team led by aerospace veteran Burt Rutan and financed byMicrosoft co-founder Paul Allen, took home the contest's $10 million purse aftertwo successful flights of the air-launched SpaceShipOnevehicle.

ThisOctober, the X Prize officials will also hold the annual, spaceflight-themedWirefly X Prize Cup in New Mexico. There, the foundation expects to oversee thesecond NorthropGrumman Lunar Lander Challenge for NASA, as well as award the first-ever$9,000 Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation purse to high school students.?

Thefoundation is also offering the $10 million Archon Genomics X Prize for anyteam capable of sequencing 100 human genomes in 10 days. It is also drawing upplans for a multimillion-dollar reward for the first group to successfullydesign, build and sell a 100 mile-per-gallon automobile.

  • SPACE.com Video Player: Impressions & Dreams: Peter Diamandis
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  • Complete Coverage of the Wirefly X Prize Cup

 

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