American lawyer, writer and businessperson
Martine Aliana Rothblatt (born 1954) is an American lawyer, author, and entrepreneur. Rothblatt graduated from University of California, Los Angeles with a combined law and MBA degree in 1981, then began work in Washington, D.C., first in the field of communications satellite law, and eventually in life sciences projects like the Human Genome Project. She is the founder and Chairman of the Board of United Therapeutics. She was also the CEO of GeoStar and the creator of SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Rothblatt was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1954 to Rosa Lee and Hal Rothblatt, a dentist. Originally named Martin, she was raised in a suburb of San Diego, California.
Rothblatt left college after two years and traveled throughout Europe, Turkey, Iran, Kenya, and the Seychelles. It was at the NASA tracking station in the Seychelles, during the summer of 1974, that she had her epiphany to unite the world via satellite communications. She then returned to University of California, Los Angeles, graduating in communication studies in 1977, with a thesis on international direct-broadcast satellites.
As an undergraduate, she became a convert to Gerard K. O'Neill's "High Frontier" plan for space colonization after analyzing his 1974 cover story on the concept as a project for Professor Harland Epps' seminar. Rothblatt subsequently became an active member of the L5 Society and its Southern California affiliate, Organization for the Advancement of Space Industrialization and Settlement (OASIS).
During her four-year law-MBA program, also at UCLA, she published five articles on the law of satellite communications and prepared a business plan for the Hughes Space and Communications Group titled about how satellite spot beam technology could be used to provide communication service to multiple Latin American countries. She also became a regular contributor on legal aspects of space colonization to the OASIS newsletter.
Upon graduating from UCLA in 1981 with a joint MBA/JD degree, Rothblatt was hired by the Washington, D.C., law firm of Covington & Burling to represent the television broadcasting industry before the Federal Communications Commission in the areas of direct broadcast satellites and spread spectrum communication. In 1982, she left to study astronomy at the University of Maryland, College Park, but was soon retained by NASA to obtain FCC approval for the IEEE C band system on its tracking and data relay satellites and by the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Radio Frequencies to safeguard before the FCC radio astronomy quiet bands used for deep space research. Later that year she was also retained as Vice President by Gerard K. O'Neill to handle business and regulatory matters for his newly invented satellite navigation technology, known as the Geostar System.
Rothblatt is a regulatory attorney. She also served as a member of the Space Studies Institute (SSI) Board of Trustees.
In 1984, she was retained by Rene Anselmo, founder of Spanish International Network, to implement her PanAmSat MBA thesis as a new company that would compete with the global telecommunications satellite monopoly, Intelsat. In 1986, she discontinued her astronomy studies and consulting work to become the full-time CEO of Geostar Corporation, under William E. Simon as Chairman. She left Geostar in 1990 to create both WorldSpace and Sirius Satellite Radio. She left Sirius in 1992 and WorldSpace in 1997 to become the full-time Chairwoman and CEO of United Therapeutics.
Rothblatt is responsible for launching several communications satellite companies, including the first private international spacecom project (PanAmSat, 1984), the first global satellite radio network (WorldSpace, 1990), and the first non-geostationary satellite-to-car broadcasting system (Sirius Satellite Radio, 1990). Rothblatt helped pioneer airship internet services with her Sky Station project in 1997, together with Alexander Haig. She then successfully led the effort to get the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allocate frequencies for airship-based internet services.
As an attorney-entrepreneur, Rothblatt was also responsible for leading the efforts to obtain worldwide approval, via new international treaties, of satellite orbit/spectrum allocations for space-based navigation services (1987) and for direct-to-person satellite radio transmissions (1992). She also led the International Bar Association's biopolitical project to develop a draft Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights for the United Nations (whose final version was adopted by the UNESCO on November 11, 1997, and endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998).
Rothblatt is a well-known voice for medical and pharmaceutical innovation. In 1994, motivated by her daughter being diagnosed with life-threatening pulmonary hypertension, Rothblatt entered the world of the life sciences by first creating the PPH Cure Foundation and later by founding a medical biotechnology company (United Therapeutics, 1996). At that time she also began studying for a Ph.D. in medical ethics at the Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London. The degree was granted in June 2001 based upon her dissertation on the conflict between private and public interests in xenotransplantation. This thesis, defended before England's leading bioethicist John Harris, was later published by Ashgate House under the title . In 2013, Rothblatt was the highest-paid female CEO in America, earning $38 million. Rothblatt received a total compensation of $31,581,896 in 2014. On May 11, 2010 she was awarded an honorary doctorate by Ben Gurion University of the Negev in recognition of her accomplishments in satellite communications and biotechnology. In April 2008, Rothblatt was elected a Member of the American Philosophical Society.
(L-R) United Therapeutics CEO Martine Rothblatt, OC Helicopters Pilot Ric Webb, Tier 1 Engineering President Glen Dromgoole, United Therapeutics Executive Vice President Paul Mahon before a flight test at Los Alamitos Army Airfield.
In September 2016, the world's first electric-powered full-size helicopter took flight at Los Alamitos Army Airfield. This historic flight was conceived and mathematically demonstrated by Martine Rothblatt, President of Lung Biotechnology PBC, specified and implemented by Glen Dromgoole of Tier 1 Engineering and piloted by Ric Webb of OC Helicopters. The helicopter, a modified Robinson R44 weighed 2500 pounds with its test pilot, flew for five minutes, attained 400 feet and exceeded 80 knots airspeed, all completely powered by rechargeable batteries. Design and development partners in the project include Rinehart Motion Systems and Brammo, Inc.. The project which was sponsored by Lung Biotechnology PBC is the first phase in the development and production of an Electrically-Powered Semi-Autonomous Rotorcraft for Organ Delivery (EPSAROD). Lung Biotechnology PBC intends to apply the EPSAROD technology to distributing manufactured organs for transplantation to major hospitals with much less noise and carbon footprint than current technology.
On February 16, 2017, Rothblatt’s electric helicopter established new world records of a 30 minute duration flight and a 800 foot altitude at Los Alamitos Army Airfield. At the end of the flight, the 2500 pound helicopter still had 8% state of charge remaining in its Brammo batteries. On March 4, 2017, Rothblatt and Ric Webb set a world speed record for electric helicopters of 100 knots at Los Alamitos Army Airfield under an FAA Experimental permit for tail number N3115T. This was also the first-ever flight of two people in a battery-powered helicopter.
Rothblatt is an airplane and helicopter pilot with night-vision goggle (NVG) certification. She generally pilots a Pilatus PC-12NG and a Bell 429WLG. Her other achievements in aviation include providing current weather information to all XM radio-equipped North American aircraft via her SiriusXM satellite system, and pioneering Aircraft Geolocation Tracking via her Geostar Satellite System.
In 1982, Rothblatt married Bina Aspen, a realtor from Compton, California. They have four children together. Rothblatt and Aspen legally adopted one another's children.
In 1994, at age 40, she came out as transgender and changed her name to Martine Aliana Rothblatt. She has since become a vocal advocate for transgender rights.
In 2004, Rothblatt launched the Terasem Movement, a transhumanist school of thought focused on promoting joy, diversity, and the prospect of technological immortality via mind uploading and geoethical nanotechnology. Through a charitable foundation, leaders of this school convene publicly accessible symposia, publish explanatory analyses, conduct demonstration projects, issue grants, and encourage public awareness and adherence to Terasem values and goals. The movement maintains a "Terasem Island" on the Internet-based virtual world , which is currently composed of two sims, which was constructed by the E-Spaces company.
Rothblatt is an advocate for LGBTQ rights and an outspoken opponent of North Carolina's controversial HB-2 law.
Through her blog , she writes about “the coming age of our own cyberconsciousness and techno-immortality“ and started a vlog together with Ulrike Reinhard on the same topic. She also created Lifenaut.com as a place where thousands of people could go to backup their minds.
Rothblatt contributed $258,000 to SpacePAC, a super PAC that supported her son, Gabriel, who was running as a Democrat in Florida's 8th congressional district but lost. Gabriel is a pastor for the Terasem Movement.