Diamandis has participated on the boards of several companies throughout his career, including Hyperloop and Cogswell Polytechnical College. He has also won several awards in his field, including Economist "No Boundaries" Innovator of the Year, the Neil Armstrong Award for Aerospace Achievement and Leadership, the World Technology Award, presented by the World Technology Counsel, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Innovation, among others.
In 1987, during his third year of medical school, Diamandis cofounded International Space University with Todd Hawley, Walter Anderson and Robert Richards.Diamandis served as the managing director and chief operating officer of the university until 1989. Today, ISU offers a Space Studies program and two accredited Master of Space Studies degrees. It has grown into a $30 million university campus headquartered in Strasbourg, France.
Diamandis cofounded Microsat Launch Systems, later renamed International MicroSpace Inc., in 1989 during his fourth year of medical school and served as the company's CEO. IMI designed a small launcher called Orbital Express for taking 100-kg payloads to low-Earth orbit, collaborating with Bristol Aerospace for the manufacture. The company won a $100 million SDIO contract for one launch plus nine options and was sold to CTA Inc of Rockville, MD in 1993 for $250,000. Diamandis joined CTA for one year as VP of Commercial Space Programs post-acquisition.
In 1991, Diamandis founded Constellation Communications, Inc., one of five low-Earth orbit satellite constellations for voice telephony. The company was funded to deploy an equatorial ring of 10 satellites to provide communications primarily to Brazil and Indonesia. Constellation was sold to E-Systems and Orbital; Diamandis remained director until 1993.
In 1994, Diamandis founded the X PRIZE Foundation after the failure of International MicroSpace, Inc and reading Charles Lindbergh's The Spirit of St. Louis. He serves as chairman and CEO of the foundation. X PRIZE was created to fund and operate a $10 million incentive competition intended to inspire a new generation of private passenger-carrying spaceships. The prize was announced on May 18, 1996 in St. Louis, MO without any purse money or any teams. The prize was ultimately funded through an insurance policy underwritten by the Anousheh and Hamid Ansari Family and renamed the Ansari X PRIZE in their honor.
The $10 million competition attracted 26 teams from seven countries as teams and was won on October 4, 2004 by Mojave Aerospace Ventures, a team run by famed aviation designer Burt Rutan and funded by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. The winning vehicle, SpaceShipOne, was piloted to space twice within two weeks to win the competition. The first flight was made on September 29, 2004, piloted by Mike Melvill, and the winning, second flight was made on October 4, 2004, by pilot Brian Binnie. SpaceShipOne was the world's first non-government piloted spacecraft and is now hanging in the National Air and Space Museum adjacent to the Spirit of St. Louis aircraft.
In January 2005, the X PRIZE Foundation Board of Trustees expanded the focus of the X PRIZE to address four different group areas: Exploration (oceans and space), Life Sciences, Energy and Environment, and Education and Global Development.
Since inception, the foundation has launched the $10M Ansari X PRIZE (awarded), the $10M Automotive X Prize (awarded), the $10M Archon X Prize (in progress), the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE (in progress), the $10M Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE, the $2M Lunar Lander Challenge (awarded), the $1.4M Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X Challenge (awarded), and the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X PRIZE. In May 2012, the Robin Hood Foundation announced its plans to partner with the X PRIZE Foundation for several New York-based challenges targeted at eradicating poverty.
The X PRIZE Foundation has a staff of approximately 50 individuals and is headquartered in Culver City, California. Its board of trustees includes Larry Page, Elon Musk, James Cameron, Dean Kamen, Ratan Tata, Ray Kurzweil, Jim Gianopulos, Naveen Jain, Arianna Huffington, Will Wright and Craig Venter.
In 2008, alongside American author, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, Diamandis cofounded Singularity University (SU). Today Diamandis serves as the university's cofounder and executive chairman. SU is an interdisciplinary university based on the NASA Ames campus in Silicon Valley and supported by a number of corporate founders and partners including Autodesk, Cisco, Nokia, Kauffman Foundation and ePlanet Ventures. The university runs a 10-week Graduate Studies Program, a seven-day Executive Program and a five-day Exponential Medicine conference.