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First Ever Heinlein prize for the Advances in Space Commercialization awarded

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HOUSTON, TX (May 25, 2006) - Trustees of the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust announced today that the first-ever Heinlein Prize will go to Dr. Peter H. Diamandis. The Heinlein Prize was founded to reward individuals for making practical contributions to the commercialization of space. Dr. Diamandis will be honored at a dinner and award ceremony on July 7, 2006 at the St. Regis Hotel in Houston, Texas and receive $500,000, a gold Heinlein Medallion, the Lady Vivamus Sword (as described in Heinlein’s book Glory

Information on Peter H. Diamandis and the X PRIZE Foundation

Diamandis is a pioneer and leader in the commercial space arena. In the past 25 years he started more than a dozen leading non-profit and for-profit space organizations. Diamandis is best known as Founder and Chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation, whose $10 million Ansari X PRIZE sparked the birth of the personal spaceflight industry.

Robert Heinlein published over one hundred novels, short stories, and articles. He won six Hugo awards and has had his work adapted into four movies and five television series. The most prevalent theme underlying all his works is the practical benefit of man's activities in space. The majority of his works were published long before Neil Armstrong first set foot upon the Moon, writing against prevailing opinions of the time that declared such an endeavor as both impractical and impossible.

Many of those who grew up reading his stories are scattered throughout the aerospace industry worldwide and have gone on to make significant progress towards man's expansion into space. Many testify today that they were first inspired by Robert Heinlein and his writings to pursue careers connected to space.

“There is no question that Heinlein’s work has inspired and driven me during my career,” said Dr. Diamandis. “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 X PRIZE flight on October 4th, 2004.”

Diamandis’ contributions to the commercialization of space began while studying molecular genetics as an undergraduate at MIT. In 1980 he founded the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), which has since become the largest student-based space organization in the world. He went on to earn a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from MIT, concurrently with a Medical Degree from Harvard.

Another major accomplishment was the founding of the International Space University (ISU) in Strasbourg, France. Since 1987 the ISU has provided graduate-level training to over 2,200 future leaders of the emerging global space community from 87 countries. The ISU is the embodiment of Dr. Diamandis’ vision of a peaceful, prosperous and boundless future through the study, exploration and development of space for the benefit of all humanity.

“Initially I wanted to be a NASA Astronaut and that dream drove me to collect numerous degrees, private pilot and scuba ratings,” said Diamandis. “But along the way I committed myself to traveling to space privately. I believe opening the space frontier is critical for the future of humanity, and making space a viable commercial endeavor is paramount to opening this frontier. My philosophy has been that the best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”


This is a big step for the private space flight community. The award Heinlein moved some of his wealth into upon his death in 1988 is finally seeing light. This is a very exciting time.

But he gets the Lady Vivamus! That is the part that had me screeching like a fanboy.

"...and found there the blade that suited me the way Excalibur suited Arthur.

I've never seen one quite like it, so I don't know what to call it. A saber, I suppose, as the blade was faintly curved and razor sharp on the edge and sharp rather far on the back. But it had a point as deadly as a rapier and the curve was not enough to keep it from being used for thrust and counter quite as well as chopping away meat-axe style. The guard was a bell curved back around the knuckles into a semi-basket but cut away enough to permit full moulinet from any guard.

It balanced in the forte less than two inches from the guard, yet the blade was heavy enough to chop bone. It was the sort of sword that feels like an extension of your body.

The grip was honest sharkskin, molded to my hand. There was a motto chased on to the blade but it was so buried in curlicues that I did not take time to study it out. This girl was mine, we fitted! I returned it and buckled belt and scabbard to my bare waist, wanting the touch of it and feeling like Captain John Carter, and the Gascon and his three friends all in one."

"I drew my sword and glanced along it, feeling its exquisite balance while noting again the faint ripples left by the feather-soft hammerblows of some master swordsmith. I tossed it and caught it by the forte. "Read the motto, Star."

She traced it out. "Dum vivimus, vivamus! -- 'While we live, let us live!' "

-- Glory Road, Robert Heinlein


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