Peter H. Diamandis ( / d ʌ ˈ m æ n d ɪ s / ; born May 20, 1961) is a Greek–American engineer, physician, [2] and entrepreneur best known for being the founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation, the co-founder and executive chairman of Singularity University and the co-author of the New York Times bestsellers Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think and BOLD: How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World. He is also the former CEO and co-founder of the Zero Gravity Corporation, the co-founder and vice chairman of Space Adventures Ltd., the founder and chairman of the Rocket Racing League, the co-founder of the International Space University, the co-founder of Planetary Resources, founder of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, and vice-chairman & co-founder of Human Longevity, Inc. [3]

Early life

Diamandis was born in the Bronx, New York. [4] His parents, both Greek immigrants, were in the medical business; his father was a physician (OB-GYN). From a very early age, Diamandis expressed a keen interest in space exploration. [5] At age 8, he began giving lectures on space to his family and friends. [5] At age 12, Diamandis won first place in the Estes Rocket Design Competition for building a launch system able to simultaneously launch three rockets. [6]

After graduating from Great Neck North High School in 1979, Diamandis attended Hamilton College for his first year, then transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study biology and physics. During his second year at MIT in 1980, Diamandis co-founded Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. [7]

Diamandis graduated from MIT in 1983 [8] with a B.S. in molecular biology. [9] He then entered Harvard Medical School to pursue his M.D. During his second year of medical school, he co-founded the Space Generation Foundation to promote projects and programs that would help the Space Generation (all those born since the flight of Sputnik) get off the planet. [6]

During his last year of medical school in 1989, Diamandis was acting as managing director of the International Space University and CEO of International Micro Space, a microsatellite launch company. [10]

In 1986, Diamandis put his medical degree on hold and returned to MIT to pursue a master's degree in aeronautics and astronautics, conducting research at NASA Johnson Space Center, the MIT Man Vehicle Laboratory and MIT's Whitehead Biomedical Institute. [11] After completing his M.S. at MIT, Diamandis returned to Harvard and completed his M.D. [10]

Career

International Space University

In 1987, during his third year of medical school, Diamandis co-founded the International Space University alongside Todd B. Hawley and Robert D. Richards. [12] Diamandis served as the managing director and chief operating officer of the university until 1989. Today, ISU offers a Space Studies program and two accredited Master of Space Studies degrees. [13] It has grown into a $30 million university campus headquartered in Strasbourg, France.

International MicroSpace, Inc.

Diamandis co-founded Microsat Launch Systems, later renamed International MicroSpace Inc., in 1989 during his fourth year of medical school and served as the company's CEO. IMI designed a small launcher called Orbital Express for taking 100-kg payloads to low-Earth orbit, collaborating with Bristol Aerospace for the manufacture. The company won a $100 million SDIO contract for one launch plus nine options and was sold to CTA Inc of Rockville, MD in 1993 for $250,000. Diamandis joined CTA for one year as VP of Commercial Space Programs post-acquisition. [14]

Constellation Communications

In 1991, Diamandis founded Constellation Communications, Inc., one of five low-Earth orbit satellite constellations for voice telephony. The company was funded to deploy an equatorial ring of 10 satellites to provide communications primarily to Brazil and Indonesia. Constellation was sold to E-Systems and Orbital; Diamandis remained the director until 1993. [15]

X PRIZE Foundation

In 1994, Diamandis founded the X PRIZE Foundation after the failure of International MicroSpace, Inc [2] and reading Charles Lindbergh's The Spirit of St. Louis . [12] [16] He serves as the chairman and CEO of the foundation. The X PRIZE was created to fund and operate a $10 million incentive competition intended to inspire a new generation of private passenger-carrying spaceships. The prize was announced on May 18, 1996 in St. Louis, MO without any purse money or any teams. [17] The prize was ultimately funded through an insurance policy underwritten by the Anousheh and Hamid Ansari Family and renamed the Ansari X PRIZE in their honor.

The $10 million competition attracted 26 teams from seven countries as teams and was won on October 4, 2004 by Mojave Aerospace Ventures, a team run by famed aviation designer Burt Rutan and funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The winning vehicle, SpaceShipOne, was piloted to space twice within two weeks to win the competition. The first flight was made on September 29, 2004, piloted by Mike Melvill and the winning second flight was made on October 4, 2004 by pilot Brian Binnie. SpaceShipOne was the world's first non-government piloted spacecraft [18] and is now hanging in the National Air and Space Museum adjacent to the Spirit of St. Louis aircraft. [7]

In January 2005, the X PRIZE Foundation Board of Trustees expanded the focus of the X PRIZE to address four different group areas: Exploration (oceans and space), Life Sciences, Energy and Environment, and Education and Global Development. [3]

Since inception, the foundation has launched the $10M Ansari X PRIZE (awarded), [3] the $10M Automotive X Prize (awarded), the $10M Archon X Prize (in progress), the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE (in progress), the $10M Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE, [3] the $2M Lunar Lander Challenge (awarded), the $1.4M Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge (awarded), [3] and the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X PRIZE. [3] In May 2012, the Robin Hood Foundation announced its plans to partner with the X PRIZE Foundation for several New York-based challenges targeted at eradicating poverty. [3]

The X PRIZE Foundation has a staff of approximately 50 individuals and is headquartered in Playa Vista, California. It boasts an all-star board of trustees including Larry Page, Elon Musk, James Cameron, Dean Kamen, Ratan Tata, Ray Kurzweil, Jim Gianopulos, Naveen Jain, Arianna Huffington, Will Wright and Craig Venter. [3]

Zero Gravity Corporation

In 1994, Diamandis co-founded ZERO-G with Byron Lichtenberg and Ray Cronise. The space entertainment company offers weightless experiences aboard its FAA-certified Boeing 727 aircraft and provides NASA with parabolic flight services for research, education and training. [3] The company has flown over 10,000 customers.

In 2007, physicist Stephen Hawking experienced eight rounds of weightlessness on a ZERO-G flight. Diamandis said that the successful outcome of that flight was proof that "everyone can participate in this type of weightless experience." [3] He would recount the experience of taking Dr. Hawking into the upper atmosphere at TED2008. [3]

Angel Technologies Corporation

Between 1995 and 1999, Diamandis was the president of Angel Technologies Corporation, a commercial communications company that develops wireless broadband communications networks. [4]

Space Adventures, Ltd.

Founded in 1998, Space Adventures is a space tourism company that has flown eight private customer missions to the International Space Station since 2001. [4] Diamandis is the co-founder and vice chairman of Space Adventures. [4]

BlastOff! Corporation

Between 2000 and 2001, Diamandis was the CEO of BlastOff! Corporation, which proposed to fly a private rover mission to land on the Moon as a mix of entertainment, Internet and space. [4] The company lost funding and ceased business in 2001.

Rocket Racing League

In 2005, Diamandis co-founded the Rocket Racing League. [4] The motor sport, which was developed as a cross between IndyCar racing and rockets, envisioned enabling the public to enjoy speed, rockets and competitive spirits. Diamandis remains the chairman of RRL. [4] [4]

Singularity University

In 2008, alongside American author, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, Diamandis co-founded Singularity University. Today Diamandis serves as the university's co-founder and executive chairman. [4] SU is an interdisciplinary university whose mission is to assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies to address humanity's grand challenges. With the support of a broad range of leaders in academia, business and government, SU hopes to stimulate groundbreaking, disruptive thinking and solutions aimed at solving some of the planet's most pressing challenges. SU is based at the NASA Ames campus in Silicon Valley and supported by a number of corporate founders and partners including Google, Autodesk, Cisco, Nokia, Kauffman Foundation and ePlanet Ventures. [4] The university runs a 10-week Graduate Studies Program, [4] a seven-day Executive Program [39] and a five-day Exponential Medicine conference. [40]

Planetary Resources Inc.

In April 2012, Diamandis co-founded Planetary Resources Inc., an organization dedicated to the identification, remote sensing and prospecting of near-Earth approaching asteroids, with Eric Anderson. [41] [42] Billionaire investors include Google's Eric E. Schmidt and Larry Page, as well as Ross Perot, Jr. and Charles Simonyi. Advisors include filmmaker and explorer James Cameron and several renowned scientists. [43]

Human Longevity Inc.

In March 2014, Diamandis co-founded Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), a genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company focused on extending the healthy human lifespan, [44] with Craig Venter and Robert Hariri. [45]

Books

In 2012, alongside Steven Kotler, Diamandis co-authored Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think . The nonfiction work discusses the potential for exponential technology and three other emerging market forces to significantly raise global standards of living within the next 25 years.

Abundance was well-received; [46] it was #2 on The New York Times Best Seller list [47] and remained on the list for nine weeks. It was #1 on the non-fiction bestseller lists of Amazon [48] and Barnes and Noble. [49]

At the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative, President Clinton recommended Abundance to readers as an antidote to negative news.

In 2015, again alongside of Steven Kotler, Diamandis co-authored another New York Times best selling book, Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth, and Impact the World . This nonfiction book provides analysis and instruction for entrepreneurs interested in learning about exponential technologies, moon-shot thinking and crowdsourcing. [2]

Boards

Diamandis serves on the following boards:

Additional notable achievements

Diamandis also:

  • Served as CEO of Desktop.tv, a spin-off company from BlastOff! designed to provide a global peer-to-peer television network for broadcasting unique content to the desktop. [60]
  • Served as chairman of Starport.com, an Internet channel for space exploration for kids of all ages. [10] The site represents over 20 astronauts and features space heroes, missions and simulations. Sold to Space.com.
  • Co-founded and served as director of the Space Generation Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in 1985 to create, in all people born since the advent of the Space Age on October 4, 1957, a sense of identity—an awareness that they are born as members of a space-faring race. The foundation supports numerous educational and research projects. [61]
  • Founded SpaceFair in 1983. SpaceFair is a national space conference that was hosted by MIT in 1983, 1985 and 1987. [62]
  • 2007 key subject in the documentary film, Orphans of Apollo [63]
  • Diamandis is the New York Times Bestselling author of Abundance – The Future Is Better Than You Think . Abundance was #1 on Amazon and #2 on New York Times. [58]

Awards and recognition

  • 1983 MIT John Asinari Award for outstanding Undergrad Life Sciences research.
  • 1984 MIT William L. Stewart, Jr Award for the founding of SEDS.
  • 1985–1986 Harvard Medical School Student Research Grant, American Heart Association
  • 1986–1987 Biomedical Research Support Grant supported by the NIH.
  • 1986 Space Industrialization Fellowship presented by the Space Foundation. [64]
  • 1988 Aviation Week & Space Tech. Laurel in recognition of founding ISU. [64]
  • 1993 Space Frontiers Foundation "Pioneers Award," presented for cumulative work done in the commercialization and development of the space field. [65]
  • 1995 Konstantine E. Tsiolkovsky Award presented by the Russian government for the creation of ISU (along with Hawley and Richards). [64]
  • 1996 "Special Merit" award presented by the National Space Society for outstanding work done by space pioneers under the age of 40. [66]
  • 2006 Neil Armstrong Award for Aerospace Achievement and Leadership [67]
  • 2003 World Technology Award, presented by the World Technology Counsel [8]
  • 2005 Doctorate of Space Achievement (Honoris Causa) by ISU
  • 2006 Lindbergh Award [69]
  • 2006 Wired RAVE Award [8]
  • 2006 Neil Armstrong Award for Aerospace Achievement and Leadership [67]
  • 2006 (inaugural) Heinlein Prize for Advances in Space Commercialization [8] [8]
  • 2007 Arthur C. Clarke Award for Innovation [73]
  • 2010 Economist "No Boundaries" Innovator of the Year [74]