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X PRIZE Foundation Raises $2.7 Million At Gala Hosted At Google

Anousheh Ansari, title sponsor of the Ansari X PRIZE and the first private female space tourist, was among the attendees at the event.
by Staff Writers
Los Angeles (SPX) Mar 09, 2007
The X PRIZE Foundation raised more than $2.5 million at the "Radical Benefit for Humanity" on Saturday evening. Hosted by Larry Page at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., luminaries from around the world attended including: Lawrence Bender, producer of "An Inconvenient Truth"; Tipper Gore; Sergey Brin, Google co-founder; Sir Richard Branson; Dr. Stuart Blusson, sponsor of the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics; Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles Lindbergh.

Also in attendence were Robert K. Weiss, vice chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation and film producer; Anousheh Ansari, title sponsor of the Ansari X PRIZE and the first private female space tourist; Arianna Huffington, opinion leader, Huffington Post; and Ted Waitt, founder of Gateway Computers. Robin Williams, actor/comedian, gave an impromptu performance for the crowd of more than 300.

"The success that the X PRIZE Foundation has achieved so far with minimal resources is astounding. We all look for this kind of leverage. The X PRIZE model has huge potential to unlock innovation around the grand challenges that are important to each other," noted Benefit chairman and Google founder, Larry Page.

The live auction raised $1.9 million. Ted Waitt, founder of Gateway Computers, bid $100,000 to become a member of the Genome 100, which will map his personal genome. Waitt shared the winning bid of $300,000 with Raymond Sidney for the Virgin Mega-Packages which included trips to space on Virgin Galactic, trips to Sir Richard Branson's private African retreat and personal island. JC Huizenga placed the winning bid of $330,000 for the Fisker Coach Tramonto automobile, complete with a lifetime of carbon credits.

Zero G auctioned off experiences in weightlessness with Stephen Hawking to Bill Lee, and to Anne Wojcicki and George Harkin with Anousheh Ansari for $160,000. Brian McClendon (creator of Google Earth) won one of the few U.S. flags that has made the trip to the moon, courtesy of a donation by Nancy Conrad, wife of Apollo astronaut Pete Conrad for $120,000.

Michael Krasny of KQED's Forum emceed the event, and musician Rufus Wainwright performed a short set of signature songs. And just as guests thought the night was wrapping up, Robin Williams took the stage and brought the house down with an impromptu comedy performance that included his thoughts on Stephen Hawking in zero gravity, methane powered automobiles, and automotive GPS systems that take on the personalities of different cultures.

"Larry brought together an impressive array of leaders who are enthusiastic supporters of our prize-driven philanthropy model," noted Tom Vander Ark X Prize president. "People really understood that important breakthroughs can be made at this point in our history that will alleviate a number of critical problems facing society today. With the money raised, we're on our way to addressing new challenges."

"This unique combination of philanthropic support, with San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Hollywood joining forces, really has taken our Foundation to a whole new level," added Bibi Kasrai, head fundraising counsel for the X PRIZE Foundation.

"Radical Partners" of the event included Analog Bits, and Bryan Cave Attorneys at Law, with additional contributions to the event provided by Adobe Software, Space Adventures, William Morris Agency, RBZ, SEIU, Kleiner Perkins, Virgin Galactic, KKR, Native Energy, and Grey Goose Vodka.

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NASA Completes Orion Spacecraft Review
Washington (UPI) March 07, 2007
NASA officials have set a requirements baseline for the Orion crew exploration vehicle, bringing the next U.S. spacecraft a step closer to construction. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Orion Project scientists completed the system requirements review in cooperation with the project's prime contractor, the Lockheed Martin Corp.

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