Here’s your chance to bid for a seat on Blue Origin’s first space flight with passengers in July

May 7, 2021

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Let the bidding begin!

The private spaceflight company Blue Origin announced it has circled 20 July as the date for its first space sightseeing flight and has opened up bidding for a seat on the inaugural trip.

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If the flight does take off as planned, it could mark a major milestone in the competition to launch the commercial space travel industry.

The New Shepard rocket will carry six passengers into suborbital space, 62 miles above the earth. Along for the ride will be the five-person crew and one person who gets to sit back and enjoy the view from high above.

The ship will travel high enough for passengers to experience several minutes of weightlessness, as well as being able to see the curvature of the planet before the pressurized capsule returns to Earth under parachutes. And you’ll apparently have a great view, because Blue Origin says the capsule features six observation windows that are nearly three times as tall as those on a Boeing 747 jumbo jet and are the largest ever used in space.

How much will it cost to win that seat is anyone’s guess, especially with the auction format and the novelty of a flight into space having the potential to spark a bidding war. According to Reuters, it could cost upwards of $200,000 (about £145,000). That was the price Blue Origin, which is owned by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, was reportedly planning to charge passengers for the ride when it announced its plans in 2018. That price tag was reached after an appraisal of plans from rival billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic endeavour and confirms that, for at least the beginning, space tourism’s primary customer base will be celebrities and the mega-rich.

The New Shepard, named after Alan Shepard, the first American to reach space, will take off and land in West Texas. As of 14 April, the astronaut crew had already made 15 consecutive successful trips above the Karman Line (the altitude where space begins) and back.

The auction for a seat on the first flight will begin with sealed bids that can be submitted between now and 19 May. After that, the bids will be unsealed and participants must exceed the highest bid to stay in contention. The bidding will conclude with a live online auction on 12 June.

The auction for the empty spot on the New Shepard is being auctioned off to benefit Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, which seeks to inspire careers in STEM and to push for the creation of a future lived-in space.

Featured photo courtesy of Blue Origin.

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