Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft

Paul Gardener Allen

Paul G. Allen (born 1953): Is an American philanthropist and innovator who, along with Bill Gates, founded Microsoft Corporation in 1975. He was born in Seattle, Washington on January 21, 1953. By the time he retired from the Microsoft Board Directors in the year 2000, Allen had already become one of the major philanthropists in the world. He has donated more than 1.8 billion dollars to scientific and educational causes. Much of this has gone to foster the private exploration of space.

In 2001, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation donated more than eleven million dollars for the research and development of what is now the Allen Telescope Array or ATA. Since then, he has donated almost nineteen million dollars for construction of that facility by the University of California, Berkley. Located in Hat Creek, which is north of San Francisco, the ATA, once it is completed, will be an innovative type of radio telescope. Plans are for 350 six-meter wide satellite dishes that can conduct radio astronomy at the same time they can perform deep space research. A major part of the latter will be a search for radio signals that may be signs of intelligent life.

On October 4, 2004, the ten million dollar Ansari X Prize, for the first private firm that could build a fly a spaceship that could complete two flights within two weeks or less, was won by SpaceShipOne, which was built by Burt Rutan and his company, Scaled Composites. Paul Allen had been the sole investor in the winning effort, making him the co-winner of the prize. He continues to push for the manned exploration of space with his proposed Stratolaunch System, which would be done in conjunction with Rutan and others. Mr. Allen hopes to build a dual-bodied vehicle. Its lower stage would be jet-powered, to take the vehicle to the edge of space. Then, the second stage would fire its rockets to separate and enter orbit, while the first stage returned to Earth. If successful, Stratolaunch would be the first space transport system with no funding from the government.