His Zero Gravity Corporation lets the public experience weightlessness during parabolic flight, and his company Space Adventures has taken four tourists to the International Space Station.
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Peter Diamandis on The X PRIZE and Private Space Flight We’re living in a very risky society which is driving me not so I think we’re killing this nation with—organic because a true breakthrough requires tremendous levels of risk. My name is Peter Diamandis and I am the chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, but run a number of other companies. I'm a chairman of Singularity University, cofounder, manager and director of Space Adventures and Zero G and chairman of the Rocket racing and my nine-year old kid having fun. I have wanted to fly into space since childhood. I was a kid born in the 60’s, grow up with polo and bought the story that all of us would have a chance to fly in the space. And frankly, the pace at which we have been moving in the 60’s should have given us that capability, but the race against the Soviet Union basically ended while we land on the moon and politicians gave up on that vision of the future and technology really died off very quickly. And I realized that my chance of becoming an astronaut were one in a thousand. And so that was my vision, my vision of flying in the space is like a scuba diver, you know, when you want to go scuba diving or mountain climbing or whatever your sport is, you can go and do it. So, I made agreement to myself and after going through medical school and getting my engineering degrees that I was going to do it privately. And the original X Prize, the Ansari X Prize was an effort to build a private space flight industry that would allow all of us to go with our own hard earn money and explore this frontier. So, opening the space frontier for example with the Ansari X Prize, it’s 2003. We’ve got 26 teams around the world who are building private spaceships to carry you and I up in the space. And the realization is that the rules and regulations in United States don’t allow for private space foot. They allow for one way expandable launch vehicles, they don’t allow for vehicles to reenter and they don’t allow for people to buy tickets. And so, I have to go to the FA Administrator Marion Blakey and said, “Marion, we’ve got a problem. The Ansari X Prize for space flight, we’ve got teams about to start competing but they can’t compete in the United States. They’re going to have to go to Mexico or Canada or Russia to go and fly their vehicles.” And much to our credit, she said, “We’ll have to change that, won’t we?” And so, the rules and regulations to allow for round trip travel and what I like to quote “carbon-based payloads” you and I to go will have to be created. So, a lot of breakthroughs run into regulatory structures that are inflexible. And sometimes it is not about the technology. It’s about changing what the regulations allow. And as we open up space, that is going to be more and more of the challenge. So, how do we allow people to really innovate, take risks? One of my companies for example is a company called Zero Gravity Corporation. We have a couple of 727’s so we take people up into weightless parabolic flight. Couple of years back, we flew Steven hacking the world’s expert gravity in Zero G and that was really amazing experience to see this man has been wheelchair bound for 40 years float freely in the Zero G airplane. Now, NASA have been doing Zero G flights for the last 40 years since the late 50’s. They were flying people in Zero G airplanes. And in 1993, myself and another colleague Byron Lichtenberg who had flown two shuttle missions and I walked into the FAA. And we said we would love to take the paying public up for Zero G flights. And we’re going to put 35 people at the back of the airplane, unstrap them from their seatbelt, put the airplane up in a 45-degree clime, push it over the top and they’ll float out and they said, “You want to do what?” It isn’t going to happen. And literally, the legal structure that we’d formulated, there was no place in rules and regulations to the Federal Aviation Regulations that would allow this to occur. And I remembered th

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