Why a Prize Fund

Why a Prize Fund

We have had the technology to go to Mars for decades now. The only thing that is lacking is funding. No one has come forward with tens of billions of dollars to spend on a trip to Mars. Additionally, supporters of space travel do not want to see their hard-earned money fund a failed mission; instead, they want to be able to say, “I helped make history by supporting that successful mission!”  This is what the Mars Prize fund is all about. We give Space Advocates the opportunity to put their money where it will really count – a prize fund for the first group to successfully put people on Mars.

The Mars Prize Fund plays two roles: 1) it is an incentive and motivator, and 2) it is a way for the first successful group to recover some (or all) of what they spent so they can continue to make breakthroughs and innovations. Imagine if one million people subscribed just $2 (USD) per month. The Prize Fund would grow by $2 million per month, and $24 million per year. Together, we have the ability to raise the funds needed to incentivize and pay for the next “giant leap” in human history.

History of Prize Incentives

Prizes have a long and successful history of incentivizing technological innovation and progress.

In 1913, the Daily Mail, a London newspaper, offered a £10,000 prize to the first person to fly across the Atlantic in one plane in less than 72 hours. Only 6 years later in 1919, a team of British aviators accomplished the feat and won the prize.

The Orteig Prize was a $25,000 reward ($340,067 in 2014 dollars) offered on May 19, 1919 by New York hotel owner Raymond Orteig to the first allied aviator(s) to fly non-stop from New York City to Paris or vice-versa. Relatively unknown American Charles Lindbergh won the prize in 1927 in his aircraft Spirit of St. Louis. Lindbergh’s flight was followed by the “Lindbergh boom”, as public interest in air travel bloomed and aviation stocks skyrocketed. The Orteig Prize occasioned investments many times the value of the prize, advancing public interest and launched the aviation industry as we know it today.

In 1996, the X Prize Foundation offered a $10 million prize for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. Just 8 years later, SpaceShipOne accomplished this feat and won the prize, and more than $100 million was invested worldwide in new technologies in pursuit of the prize, which led to the establishment of many new private space companies manufacturing reusable space vehicles and kicked off the private space race.

More recently, in 2007 Google sponsored the Lunar X Prize, a $30 million prize for the first organization that could land a robotic spacecraft on the Moon, travel at least 500 meters, and return high definition photos from the surface. The deadline was extended twice in 2015 and 2017, and in 2018 the financial prize was terminated without a monetary award. However, five teams have secured launch contracts and the non-prize competition remains alive. Although no prize will be awarded, the potential prize did spur the creation of several innovative designs, and several teams and companies have been formed that remain in place today.