SOURCE: X PRIZE Foundation

January 18, 2008 13:06 ET

NASA and the X PRIZE Foundation Recognize 2007 Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award Winners

New Traveling Exhibit Unveiled With Spirit of Innovation Trophy at NASA Headquarters

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - January 18, 2008) - The winners of a national space-oriented high school competition, the Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award, were recognized today in a ceremony at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. To highlight the efforts of the students, the X PRIZE Foundation and NASA unveiled a new exhibit which will travel around the country called Spirit of Innovation. In addition, the X PRIZE Foundation announced that the Conrad Award Scroll, inscribed with the names of the winning team, will be carried to the International Space Station in the fall of 2008 by Richard Garriott.

NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale and NASA Innovative Partnerships Program Director Doug Comstock were on hand to honor the winning teams of young people. The Innovative Partnerships Program, a mission support office at NASA Headquarters that promotes technology partnerships with industry and academia, provided $10,000 in support of the Award, including grant money to the top three teams' schools. Comstock said, "These students represent the future of space exploration and NASA is proud to recognize and encourage their innovative ideas. We congratulate all the winners of the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award."

First-place team "Michael and Talia" from Los Angeles helped unveil the traveling exhibit that features their winning entry. The exhibit also showcases the 2007 competition, which was held at the X PRIZE Cup at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Michael Hakimi and Talia Nour-Omid developed an idea for a device that would effectively monitor all of a human being's vital signs while in space. The winning team received a $5,000 grant for their school and a trophy presented by Nancy Conrad, wife of the late Apollo astronaut Pete Conrad and creator of the prize, and Erik Lindbergh, X PRIZE Foundation Trustee, great-grandson of Charles Lindbergh and designer and sculptor of the First Prize trophy.

Bretton Alexander, X PRIZE Foundation Executive Director of Space Prizes, and Nancy Conrad announced that the Conrad Award Scroll that lists the names of the winning team members will be carried to space by Richard Garriott on his Fall 2008 trip to the International Space Station. Said Conrad, "Pete's goal was to open space to all travelers. Through the Spirit of Innovation Award, we are bringing space to people before we can bring people to space. We are passing the torch to the next generation of space travelers. Nothing shows that better than Richard carrying the scroll to the Space Station. Richard's father, Owen, was an astronaut on Skylab, and now Richard is going up. And we are all connected, because it was Pete's mission that rescued Skylab and made it possible for Owen to fly."

Students from the other top two teams also attended the event. Samantha Hopkins represented Team Gad Astro from Northbrook, IL, who won the second place award with their concept of a self-healing material that would rapidly fix any punctures, maintaining safety in space. Christo Magri represented Team Penguin Education from Friendswood, TX, who won third place with their idea for a company that works with private and public schools to provide a high level of space education.

The Pete Conrad Spirit of Innovation Award is a competition for teams of high school students to create a concept to benefit the personal spaceflight industry. Teams submitted graphical representations, technical documents and business plans of concepts. The 10 finalist teams traveled to Alamogordo, New Mexico, to present their business plans to a panel of judges and to the public, who voted on their favorite team.


Charles "Pete" Conrad, Jr. was the third man to walk on the moon and served on Gemini 5 and 11, Apollo 12, and Skylab 2 missions. Conrad was the recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor awarded for his rescue of Skylab. He was posthumously awarded the Ambassador of Exploration Award by NASA in 2006.


The Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) mission is to provide leveraged technology for NASA's Mission Directorates, Programs, and Projects through investments and technology partnerships with industry, academia, government agencies, and national laboratories. Fundamentally, NASA creates new technologies to meet challenging aeronautics and space program goals, and once proven, these technologies often have a multitude of productive uses in society. Making these sometimes surprising connections and transferring NASA's technologies to the public is an important focus of NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program. IPP also seeks solutions to some of NASA's pressing technical challenges by funding Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer projects; seeking cost-shared, technology development partnerships through the IPP Seed Fund; and tapping into new sources of innovation through NASA's Centennial Challenges prize program. IPP seeks to facilitate and catalyze innovative partnerships in two directions: technology infusion to provide technical solutions to some of the challenges being faced by NASA's programs and projects; and technology transfer -- or spinoffs -- to provide solutions to technical challenges in the private sector or other government agencies with NASA-developed technology.


The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. On October 4, 2004, the X PRIZE Foundation captured world headlines when Mojave Aerospace Ventures, led by legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world's first private vehicle to space twice in two weeks to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. The X PRIZE Foundation has since launched the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE and the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, and will continue to offer new prizes for breakthroughs in the areas of life improvement, exploration, equity of opportunity and sustainability. The Foundation is widely recognized as the leading model for fostering innovation through competition. For more information, please visit or email

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