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  • My mission in life since I was a kid was,

  • and is, to take the rest of you into space.

  • It's during our lifetime that we're going to take the Earth,

  • take the people of Earth and transition off permanently. And that's exciting.

  • In fact, I think it is a moral imperative

  • that we open the space frontier.

  • You know, it's the first time that we're going to have a chance

  • to have planetary redundancy.

  • A chance to, if you would, back up the biosphere.

  • And if you think about space,

  • everything we hold of value on this planet --

  • metals and minerals and real estate and energy -- is in infinite quantities in space.

  • In fact, the Earth is a crumb in a supermarket filled with resources.

  • The analogy for me is Alaska. You know, we bought Alaska.

  • We Americans bought Alaska in the 1850s. It's called Seward's Folly.

  • We valued it as the number of seal pelts we could kill.

  • And then we discovered these things -- gold and oil and fishing and timber --

  • and it became, you know, a trillion-dollar economy

  • and now we take our honeymoons there. The same thing will happen in space.

  • We are on the verge of the greatest exploration

  • that the human race has ever known.

  • We explore for three reasons,

  • the weakest of which is curiosity.

  • You know, it's funded NASA's budget up until now.

  • Some images from Mars 1997.

  • In fact, I think in the next decade, without any question,

  • we will discover life on Mars and find that it is literally ubiquitous

  • under the soils and different parts of that planet.

  • The stronger motivator, the much stronger motivator, is fear.

  • It drove us to the moon. We literally in fear, with the Soviet Union,

  • raced to the moon. And we have these huge rocks,

  • you know, killer-sized rocks in the hundreds of thousands or millions out there,

  • and while the probability is very small,

  • the impact, figured in literally,

  • of one of these hitting the Earth is so huge

  • that to spend a small fraction looking, searching,

  • preparing to defend, is not unreasonable.

  • And of course, the third motivator,

  • one near and dear to my heart as an entrepreneur, is wealth.

  • In fact, the greatest wealth. If you think about these other asteroids,

  • there's a class of the nickel iron

  • which in platinum group metal markets alone

  • are worth something like 20 trillion dollars,

  • if you can go out and grab one of these rocks.

  • My plan is to actually buy puts on the precious metal market,

  • and then actually claim that I'm going to go out and get one.

  • And that will fund the actual mission to go and get one.

  • But fear, curiosity and greed have driven us.

  • And for me, this is -- I'm the short kid on the right --

  • this was -- my motivation was actually during Apollo.

  • And Apollo was one of the greatest motivators ever.

  • If you think about what happened at the turn of -- early 1960s,

  • in -- May 25th, JFK said, "We're going to go to the moon."

  • And people left their jobs and they went to obscure locations

  • to go and be part of this amazing mission.

  • And we knew nothing about going to space.

  • We went from having literally put Alan Shepard in sub-orbital flight

  • to going to the moon in eight years,

  • and the average age of the people that got us there was 26 years old.

  • They didn't know what couldn't be done.

  • They had to make up everything --

  • and that, my friend, is amazing motivation.

  • This is a -- this is Gene Cernan, a good friend of mine, saying,

  • "If I can go to the moon --" this is the last human on the moon so far --

  • "nothing, nothing is impossible." But of course,

  • we've thought about the government always as the person taking us there.

  • But I put forward here, the government is not going to get us there.

  • The government is unable to take the risks required to open up this precious frontier.

  • The shuttle is costing a billion dollars a launch.

  • That's a pathetic number. It's unreasonable.

  • We shouldn't be happy in standing for that.

  • One of the things that we did with the Ansari X PRIZE

  • was take the challenge on that risk is OK, you know.

  • As we are going out there and taking on a new frontier,

  • we should be allowed to risk.

  • In fact, anyone who says we shouldn't, you know,

  • just needs to be put aside, because as we go forward,

  • in fact, the greatest discoveries we will ever know is ahead of us.

  • The entrepreneurs in the space business are the furry mammals,

  • and clearly the industrial military complex --

  • with Boeing and Lockheed and NASA -- are the dinosaurs.

  • The ability for us to access these resources

  • to gain planetary redundancy --

  • we can now gather all the information, the genetic codes,

  • you know, everything stored on our databases,

  • and back them up off the planet,

  • in case there would be one of those disastrous situations.

  • The difficulty is getting there, and clearly, the cost to orbit is key.

  • Once you're in orbit, you are two-thirds of the way, energetically, to anywhere --

  • the moon, to Mars. And today,

  • there's only three vehicles -- the U.S. shuttle, the Russian Soyuz

  • and the Chinese vehicle -- that gets you there.

  • Arguably, it's about 100 million dollars a person on the space shuttle.

  • One of the companies I started, Space Adventures, will sell you a ticket.

  • We've done two so far, we'll be announcing two more on the Soyuz

  • to go up to the space station for 20 million dollars.

  • But that's expensive and to understand what the potential is --

  • (Laughter)

  • it is expensive. But people are willing to pay that!

  • You know, one -- we have a very unique period in time today.

  • For the first time ever we have enough wealth

  • concentrated in the hands of few individuals

  • and the technology accessible

  • that will allow us to really drive space exploration.

  • But how cheap could it get? I want to give you the end point.

  • We know 20 million dollars today, you can go and buy a ticket,

  • but how cheap could it get?

  • Let's go back to high school physics here.

  • If you calculate the amount of potential energy, mgh,

  • to take you and your space suit up to a couple hundred miles,

  • and then you accelerate yourself to 17,500 miles per hour.

  • Remember, that one-half MV squared -- and you figure it out.

  • It's about 5.7 gigajoules of energy.

  • If you expended that over an hour, it's about 1.6 megawatts.

  • If you go to one of Vijay's micro-power sources

  • and they sell it to you for seven cents a kilowatt hour --

  • anybody here fast in math?

  • How much will it cost you and your space suit to go to orbit?

  • 100 dollars. That's the price-improvement curve that --

  • we need some breakthroughs in physics along the way,

  • I'll grant you that.

  • (Laughter)

  • But guys, if the -- if history has taught us anything,

  • it's that if you can imagine it, you will get there eventually.

  • I have no question that the physics,

  • the engineering to get us down to the point

  • where all of us can afford orbital space flight is around the corner.

  • The difficulty is that there needs to be a real marketplace to drive the investment.

  • Today, the Boeings and the Lockheeds don't spend a dollar

  • of their own money in R&D.

  • It's all government research dollars, and very few of those.

  • And in fact, the large corporations,

  • the governments, can't take the risk.

  • So we need what I call an exothermic economic reaction in space.

  • Today's commercial markets worldwide, global commercial launch market?

  • 12 to 15 launches per year.

  • Number of commercial companies out there? 12 to 15 companies.

  • One per company. That's not it. There's only one marketplace,

  • and I call them self-loading carbon payloads.

  • They come with their own money. They're easy to make.

  • It's people. The Ansari X PRIZE was my solution,

  • reading about Lindbergh for creating the vehicles to get us there.

  • We offered 10 million dollars in cash for the first reusable ship,

  • carry three people up to 100 kilometers,

  • come back down and within two weeks, make the trip again.

  • 26 teams from seven countries entered the competition,

  • spending between one to 25 million dollars each.

  • And of course, we had a beautiful SpaceShipOne,

  • which made those two flights and won the competition.

  • And I'd like to take you there, to that morning,

  • for just a quick video.

  • Video: Pilot: Release our fire.

  • Richard Searfoss: Good luck.

  • (Applause)

  • RS: We've got an altitude call of 368,000 feet.

  • (Applause)

  • RS: So in my official capacity as the chief judge

  • of the Ansari X PRIZE competition,

  • I declare that Mojave Aerospace Ventures

  • has indeed earned the Ansari X PRIZE.

  • (Applause)

  • Peter Diamandis: Probably the most difficult thing that I had to do

  • was raise the capital for this. It was literally impossible.

  • We went -- I went to 100, 200 CEOs, CMOs.

  • No one believed it was done. Everyone said, "Oh, what does NASA think?

  • Well, people are going to die,

  • how can you possibly going to put this forward?"

  • I found a visionary family, the Ansari family and Champ Car,

  • and raised part of the money, but not the full 10 million.

  • And what I ended up doing was going out to the insurance industry

  • and buying a hole-in-one insurance policy.