Technological Innovation and Prize Incentives
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Technological Innovation and Prize Incentives

The Google Lunar X Prize and Other Aerospace Competitions

Luciano Kay

In this in-depth study, Luciano Kay focuses on three recent cases of prize competitions in the aerospace industry: the Google Lunar X Prize, the Ansari X Prize and the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. Using a combination of real-time and historical analysis based on personal interviews, workplace visits and questionnaire and document data analysis, the author examines the particular dynamics of the prize phenomenon and offers a comprehensive discussion of the potential of prizes to induce innovation. This fascinating volume also sets out a systematic method to studying prize incentives, offering a concrete innovation model and case study design approach that will prove highly useful to further research efforts in the field.
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Chapter 5: A first approach: the Ansari X Prize and the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge

Luciano Kay


The AXP was announced by the XPF in 1996. It offered a $10 million cash purse for the first non-governmental organization to build and launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks by 1 January 2005. This prize was privately funded and inspired by the early 20th century Orteig Prize for the first nonstop transatlantic flight between New York and Paris. Twenty-six teams from seven different countries entered this prize. The competition was won in 2004 by Scaled Composites, a USA aircraft design company. The winning flights are considered the first privately funded human spaceflights in history. This was the first prize program administered by the newly created XPF, an educational, non-profit corporation established in 1994 to inspire private, entrepreneurial advancements in space travel. It is also one of the first and most popular modern innovation prizes launched since the 1990s. Its purpose was to demonstrate the feasibility of private space flight, change existing public opinion about the private space indus try’s capabilities and generate concrete business opportunities for commercial space tourism (Maryniak, 2010). The prize challenge involved building and flying a manned vehicle to a suborbital space and having mostly privately funded projects.

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