Already an astronaut (she was the first female space tourist), engineer, and serial entrepreneur, Anousheh Ansari recently added another accomplishment to her resume, with her appointment as CEO of the XPRIZE foundation. Ansari served on its board for many years, and along with her family, sponsored the organization’s first competition, the Ansari XPRIZE. The $10 million contest ignited a new era for commercial spaceflight.
In this interview with Quartz reporter Corinne Purtill, Ansari speaks to the power of seeing the earth from space and how that experience inspired her to pursue and support big ideas. At XPRIZE, she is focused on finding breakthroughs for big problems that are next to impossible to resolve. “Finding the fine line is very difficult,” she says. The problems might be health-related in areas like aging and chronic diseases, or they might be focused on education, the future of work, carbon extraction or the health of our oceans. The key she said, is to fund projects that are “audacious, but still achievable”.