Seth Green Explains How He Got Involved With Space Travel

Seth Green Headshot - P 2013
Blake Gardner

Seth Green Headshot - P 2013

The actor and entrepreneur Dr. Peter Diamandis discuss the final frontier as part of the Hammer Conversations series.

XPRIZE Foundation chairman and CEO Dr. Peter Diamandis and Emmy-nominated actor Seth Green took to the stage Monday night to talk commercial space exploration and incentivized innovations as part of the Hammer museum’s ongoing Hammer Conversations series. Uniting over their passion for all things space-related, Green and Diamandis focused on space travel as part of nonprofit XPRIZE’s greater mission to solve global problems through prize-winning high-profile public competitions.

Green and Diamandis first crossed paths several years ago when Green read an article on XPRIZE and decided to reach out to the entrepreneur on a whim. “I thought—as I often do—am I famous enough to call Peter Diamandis and have him take a meeting with me?” said Green, laughing. “And the answer was, ‘yes.’”

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The actor continued to punctuate the conversation throughout the evening with witty banter, referring to himself at one point as “Captain Segue” and “Commander Tangent” for his ability to quickly digress from the topic at hand.

Along with Green, a self-described “future astronaut” who has also appeared in PSAs for NASA, Diamandis shone a spotlight on the current state of space tourism—a cause that he has championed with the likes of the Ansari XPRIZE in 2004, a $10 million prize awarded to team capable of building and launching a passenger-carrying spaceship twice within two weeks. Diamandis is also the co-founder of Zero Gravity Corporation, which developed the concept of weightless flights, allowing the likes of Stephen Hawking to experience the effects of reduced gravity on a tricked-out commercial plane. The company paved the way for Diamandis’ Space Adventures, which is on its way to sending the ninth private citizen to space—who happens to be opera singer Sarah Brightman. “[Sarah] performing in orbit is definitely part of the equation,” said Diamandis.

On Hollywood’s relationship with space exploration, both Green and Diamandis lamented the film industry’s negative portrayal of the arena, with films such as Independence Day and Edge of Tomorrow pitting humans and aliens against each other. “There hasn’t been a positive alien movie since E.T.,” noted Green. “It's easier to change people’s minds through subversive entertainment than basic education,” he later noted on Hollywood’s role in influencing the popular perception of interplanetary life and space exploration.

In addition to current competitions to place robots on the moon, Diamandis also highlighted the XPRIZE’s efforts across a number of categories, from technology innovations in the health area to deep-sea exploration and a drive to develop and improve upon new energy sources and planetary resources, including harnessing and mining asteroids for their precious metals.

“What we do is put bulls-eyes on problems, and incentivize teams to come together collaboratively and compete to solve that problem,” said Diamandis.