Amazon’s billionaire founder, Jeff Bezos, has won the prestigious Heinlein Prize for his efforts to advance space commercialization at another company he founded, Blue Origin.
Bezos follows in the footsteps of SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Peter Diamandis, who played a lead role in creating the $10 million Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight. Diamandis was the first award-winner in 2006, and Musk was honored in 2011.
The prize serves as a tribute to the late science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein, who championed private enterprise beyond Earth in such stories as “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” and “The Man Who Sold the Moon.” The Heinlein Prize Trust is funded by the estate of Robert and Virginia Heinlein.
This year’s award was announced today in conjunction with the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace 2016 conference in Seattle, and comes only a few days after Blue Origin put its reusable New Shepard spaceship through its fourth suborbital test flight to outer space and back. Blue Origin is also making progress on its BE-4 rocket engine, which is due to be used on future orbital launch vehicles.