Rick Tumlinson has been called one of the world’s top space “Visionaries” and was listed by Space News as one of the world’s top 100 most influential space leaders and won the world Technology Prize for Space in 2015. He helped create the NewSpace commercial space industry that today includes Virgin Galactic and SpaceX and billionaire investors like Paul Allen and Larry Paige of Google.
Mr. Tumlinson Co-Founded the Space Frontier Foundation in 1988, called “pound for pound the most effective space organization on Earth.” A founding Board Member of the XPrize, he signed up Dennis Tito – the world’s first space « tourist » (citizen space explorer) to fly to the International Space Station, and led the team which founded the company MirCorp and took over the Russian Mir Space Station as the world’s first commercial space facility (as featured in the film « Orphans of Apollo »).
Rick was co-Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation for the International Non-Governmental Development of Space (FINDS), a $25 million foundation that funded breakthrough projects and activities such as Helium 3 research, laser launch studies, and asteroid processing projects. The organization provided the first $100k in seed money for the founding of the Mars Society, operated the Cheap Access to Space Prize and supported such projects as The Watch asteroid search program. FINDS also underwrote and co-sponsored a very successful series of Senate Roundtables on space issues. Rick founded the Permission to Dream project, which has over the years placed dozens of telescopes in the hands of schools and educational groups around the world, from Sri Lanka to Iran and Russia.
Rick has been a lead witness in six congressional hearings on the future of NASA, the U.S. space program and space tourism, including testifying before Senator John McCain and the Senate Space and Technology Committee on the Moon, Mars and Beyond program.
He helped found the International Space University, the Lunar Prospector Project that discovered water on the Moon, and the Mars Society and founded the commercial space suit company Orbital Outfitters Inc. In 2004 Rick was one of only 20 guests invited by the White House to hear President Bush announce his plans to return to the Moon and explore Mars. Often a public critic of the agency, he helped start NASA’s prestigious Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, edited the book Return to the Moon and organized the first three Return to the Moon conferences.
He is currently working as Chair of Deep Space Industries, an asteroid mining and space resources company located at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. He recently held the Space Pioneering Summit in Washington DC, where over 100 of the US top space leaders, including CEOs, aerospace executives, astronauts, scientists and policy makers came together to agree on a new settlement oriented national space program. His latest projects are the EarthLight Foundation and the New Worlds Institute that will be holding its second conference in Nov. 2016 in Austin, Texas, and is designed to be a focus for the development of technologies and ideas to enable the coming human expansion into space. He is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Space News and his writings and interviews appear in media worldwide, from CNN to the New York Times, to Fox News, Al Jazeera and the People’s Daily