Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Will Auction 1 Ticket For First Space Sightseeing Flight

KENT, Wash. — Blue Origin — after spending more than six years developing its space tourism rocket, New Shepard — has finally set a date for its first commercial passenger mission, July 20, and announced that one of the first passengers will be the winner of an online auction.

Anyone can place a bid on the company’s website, according to a tweet posted Wednesday morning. The first round of bidding will run from May 5-19 and bids will be sealed, meaning no one will be able to see how many other people have bid. An unsealed bidding round will begin on May 19, and finally a live auction on June 12 will conclude the competition.

Proceeds from the auction will be donated to Club for the Future, a youth-focused foundation dedicated to inspiring children to study science and technology.

It’s unclear how much the ticket is expected to fetch, nor has Blue Origin said who else will be on the first flight or how much they paid for their seats. The auctioned seat will be the only seat to be sold to the public on this first flight, the other seats being occupied by those selected by Blue Origin.

According to the company’s website, there are a few restrictions on who can take a New Shepard flight: Everyone must be 18 or older, physically fit enough to climb seven flights of stairs in one minute and a half, be between 5’0″ and 6’4″ in height and between 110 pounds and 223 pounds in weight. Passengers must also be able to fasten and unfasten their seat harness in less than 15 seconds, spend up to an hour and a half strapped into the capsule with the hatch closed and withstand up to 5.5 G of force during the descent.

Blue Origin was founded 21 years ago by Amazon billionaire and world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos. New Shepard, a fully autonomous spacecraft that can carry up to six people, has completed more than a dozen automated test flights with the cabin empty at Blue Origin’s Texas facility, nearly all of which went to plan. .

New Shepard consists of two reusable parts – a small dome-shaped capsule with gaping rectangular windows and a 60-foot-tall rocket booster that detonates the capsule at up to three times the speed of sound when it rushes towards space.

The capsule is designed to detach from the rocket near its top, soaring more than 60 miles high and spending a few minutes in zero gravity before parachuting back to Earth. In total, future passengers will spend a total of approximately 10 minutes in the air and climb more than 60 miles above Earth.

Blue Origin ticket prices have been the subject of speculation for years. Meanwhile, Blue Origin’s direct competitor Virgin Galactic – the suborbital space tourism company founded by British billionaire Richard Branson in 2004 – had long been pre-selling tickets. The company has an order book of more than 600 people who will pay between $200,000 and $250,000 each for a trip to space. (Virgin Galactic has conducted test flights in space twice, and after numerous delays, the company now says it has several more test flights to complete before flying with paying customers.)

Blue Origin named its spacecraft after Alan Shepard, who became the first American to travel to space 60 years ago.

“In the decades since, less than 600 astronauts have flown into space above the Kármán line to see the boundless Earth and the thin member of our atmosphere. They all say the experience changes them” , the company said in an email announcing its auction. (The Kármán line is the altitude which is internationally considered the boundary of space. It is 100 km or about 62 miles).

After a “meticulous and progressive flight program to test” New Shepard, the email says “it’s time for the astronauts to come aboard.”

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