Press Release

James Cameron and Friends Soar Weightless in the AVATAR ZERO-G Experience to Support the X PRIZE Foundation

By SpaceRef Editor
October 12, 2010
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Oscar(R) and Golden Globe(R) Winning Filmmaker Raises Funds for the X PRIZE Foundation to Help Drive Radical Breakthroughs in Science and Technology

James Cameron, “AVATAR” Producer/Director and avid explorer, took flight aboard the ZERO-G Experience on Saturday, October 9, to raise funds for the X PRIZE Foundation. Joining Cameron on this flight was X PRIZE Foundation Trustee Jim Gianopulos, Chairman and CEO, Fox Filmed Entertainment. Other notable flyers included: Tim Ferriss, Author, “The 4-Hour Workweek”; Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO, X PRIZE Foundation; along with X PRIZE Foundation Board Members Elon Musk, Chairman and CEO of SpaceX; and Rob McEwen, Chairman and CEO of US Gold.

This special flight assembled a group of 30 individuals who are passionate about the science and technology represented in “AVATAR” and mission and innovation of the X PRIZE Foundation. Three spots were reserved for the winners of an eBay auction, in which the general public went head-to-head in a bidding war to snag a coveted seat aboard the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. An additional 20 seats were sold for $15,000 each. The weightless experience took place aboard G-FORCE ONE, a specially modified, FAA-approved, Boeing 727-200 aircraft which departed from Van Nuys Airport. The flight, identical to those used by NASA to train its astronauts, provided guests the chance to fly like Superman and flip like an Olympic gymnast, as ZERO-G creates Martian (1/3-gravity), Lunar (1/6-gravity) and zero gravity conditions over the course of 15 parabolic arcs.

“Entrepreneurs and innovators are creating technologies which are making spaceflight affordable… whether it is flying aboard a Zero-G flight, a sub-orbital flight into space, or a private flight to orbit. On Saturday’s weightless flight we gathered six X PRIZE Trustees and 20 philanthropists who believe we can use incentive prizes to drive radical breakthroughs for humanity,” said Dr. Diamandis, who founded both the X PRIZE Foundation and Zero-G. “The funds raised during this flight will help us design and launch audacious future X PRIZEs which will help humanity expand beyond the bounds of Earth.”

The auction raised a total of $210,000 with all proceeds benefiting the X PRIZE Foundation — an educational, non-profit organization that spurs innovation and radical breakthroughs through incentivized competition. The Foundation focuses on four different areas: Life Sciences; Energy and the Environment; Education and Global Development; and Exploration (Space and Oceans). Last month, the Foundation awarded the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, a competition designed to inspire a new generation of viable, safe and super fuel-efficient vehicles capable of achieving 100 miles per gallon or the energy equivalent (MPGe).

“The rapid acceleration of technology is enabling small teams to conduct exploration that was only possible by national governments. The X PRIZE Foundation helps to set and incentivize audacious and worthy targets,” noted Cameron, Advisor on the X PRIZE Foundation’s Exploration Prize Committee. If “AVATAR” has created heightened interest on the importance of caring for our environment, science exploration and the potential for groundbreaking innovation then we have succeeded. These goals are in line with the mission of the X PRIZE Foundation.”

Images and video of the Zero-G flight are available upon request.


ZERO-G is the first and only FAA-approved provider of commercial weightless flights for the general public. The ZERO-G Experience(TM) launched in October 2004 and has since successfully flown more than 6,000 passengers aboard 250-plus flights. Headquartered in Vienna, Va., ZERO-G is co-founded by X PRIZE Chairman Peter Diamandis; veteran astronaut, Byron Lichtenberg, and NASA Engineer Ray Cronise. In 2008, ZERO-G was acquired by Space Adventures, Ltd., the first and only company to have launched privately-funded individuals to space. For more information, please visit


Founded in 1995 with a mission to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity, the X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit organization that creates and conducts large-scale, international prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development worth far more than the prize itself. The X PRIZE Foundation conducts competitions in four prize groups: Education & Global Development; Energy & Environment; Life Sciences; and Space & Ocean Exploration. To date, the Foundation has awarded the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for sending the world’s first private vehicle into space and back; and the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE for creating safe, affordable, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPG or energy equivalent (MPGe). Current prizes include the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, the $10 million Archon Genomics X PRIZE, and the $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. For more information, visit

SpaceRef staff editor.