Martine Rothblatt Founder, Sirius Satellite Radio, United Therapeutics
|David Senra||Jan 2, 2019|
Touring a NASA tracking station was life-changing: It was like stepping into another reality. Everything was clean, shiny, and high tech. I asked the NASA engineer that was giving us the tour why the antenna was so humongous. It was bigger than a house. He said it was because the signals that they were tracking from deep space were so faint. I asked him what if the satellite signals were very strong and powerful? He said that’s not possible yet. If it was possible the receiving station could be small.
That is when the idea popped into my head for Sirius: It was a quasi-religious epiphany. If I could figure out a way to launch a powerful satellite, then everyone in the world could have their own tiny satellite receiving dish. I was going to connect the world with satellite communications.
What inspired you: My transformative examples were biographies and science fiction. Examples of people who transcended their background inspired me.
Did you ever think you were special compared to your peers? No. I thought I was an average person. I was lazy. I usually tried to figure out the way to get something done with the least amount of work.
My vision for Sirius was paid radio: At the time the whole paradigm for regular radio was advertiser supported radio. It was an entire paradigm shift that had to be promoted.
More people come up and thank me for providing content to them via Sirius than anything else I’ve done: I think this says information is very, very important. Information is the necessary, if not sufficient basis for development.
My first love is space technology: But I had to start a pharmaceutical company because my daughter was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. There were no medicines available. I just went to the library and started doing research.
I cold-called a person who was developing a drug for pulmonary hypertension:The company he worked for wouldn’t let him develop it because they thought it wouldn’t make money. United Therapeutics developed the drug and got FDA approval.
United Therapeutics is a public company. Their annual reports are different:One of them was in the form of a graphic novel. Another was in the form of a children’s book [patterned after Good Night Moon]. We make an annual report because that is required by law. There is no rule that says your annual report can’t be a children’s book.
United Therapeutics is branching out into Xenotransplantation: That is the transplantation of living cells, tissues, or organs from one species to another.
Martine’s latest book: Virtually Human: The Promise―and the Peril―of Digital Immortality.
Upon death Martine’s body will be frozen: Martine’s digital self will be turned into a mind clone.
A mind clone is a software version of your mind: It takes all of the digital reflections that you’ve uploaded to the cloud... Facebook posts, likes, photos, etc and recreates a version of you. Your friends and family could access your mind clone on any device.
I think the earth is the greatest spaceship in the universe: We can see almost all the different stars in our own galaxy. As we travel around the Sun we get a different perspective of the entire sky. Meanwhile, we are perfectly comfortable. We can breathe the air. We can jump, fly, and swim. So I treasure, above everything else, spaceship Earth.