Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos' rocket company, announced on Wednesday that it would auction off one seat on its space flight this July, with the proceeds going to charity. If successful, the launch will be the first to carry a paying passenger into space in more than a decade.
Space tourism has been pitched as a potentially lucrative opportunity for affluent people who want to visit space through Blue Origin, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk's SpaceX, and other space startups. No tourists have left the atmosphere in more than ten years, following many trips to the International Space Station aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
Only a few people have ever been above the Kármán Line. National Geographic said the line is named after physicist Theodore von Kármán and marks the point where the atmosphere becomes too thin to support airplane flight. The line begins at a height of 100 kilometers (62 miles) above sea level.
"We're ready, it's game time," Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin's director of astronaut sales, told Al Jazeera.
One Slot for a Lucky Bidder to Board New Shepard's Blue Origin Space Tourism
Blue Origin will award the highest bidder the opportunity to join Blue Origin and three astronauts on a launch that will be slightly higher than the "Karman Line," or 100 kilometers above sea level. This launch has no noteworthy missions or destinations. Still, it is the reason why Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin are joining SpaceX in the space race.
According to Blue Origin's website, the auction will be held in honor of the "Club for the Future" foundation. The foundation aims to encourage young people to participate in or pursue careers in STEM and space. This club is the reason for holding an auction for the highest bidder, who will receive a seat in the four-person capsule spacecraft.
The venture will also fall under Blue Origin's "Space Tourism" program, which aims to broaden people's horizons by offering space as a place to see and experience. As a private space company led by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin would have a variety of offers in the years ahead, particularly after the success of this flight.
What Are the Requirements?
So, who will be the first to ride aboard Blue Origin's rocket? Blue Origin expects to appoint the astronauts who will occupy five of the six seats on the first flight at a later date. The winner of the auction will get the sixth seat, assuming they meet the criteria.
The winning astronaut must weigh between 49kg (110 pounds) and 101kg (223 pounds) and be between 5 feet (1.5 meters) and 6 feet 4 inches (2 meters) tall, according to the fine print obtained by Al Jazeera.
Passengers should also be able to withstand forces of up to 3gs (three times their weight) for a few minutes during ascent and up to 5.5gs ( five and a half times their weight) for a few seconds during the descent into the atmosphere.
Cornell said that more information on the other passengers would be released at a later date. The company plans to fly a few more crewed flights before the end of the year.
How the Bidding Would Take Place
Blue Origin has set out the timetable for the online bidding, which includes a sealed and unsealed auction for all parties involved in the cause.
On July 20th, #NewShepard will fly its first astronaut crew to space. We are offering one seat on this first flight to the winning bidder of an online auction. Anyone can place an opening bid by going to https://t.co/6DpTdTxo36. #GradatimFerociter pic.twitter.com/jBMFYX7xHg— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) May 5, 2021
From May 5 to 19, Blue Origin will host a "sealed bidding" contest, in which people could submit whatever sum they wanted but wouldn't be able to see what anyone had submitted.
The space company will host a "unsealed bidding" session on May 19, where the names and amounts of people who have submitted offers will be shown. By June 12, the final bid will be made, bringing the procedure to a close and determining who will be the winner of a chance to reach new heights.
Blue Origin's Space Tourism onboard the New Shepard will take place on July 20.
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