Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos will be going into space on July 20 with the winner of the auction for its first tourism flight - a mysterious bidder who pledged $28 million for the experience.
On Saturday, June 12, Blue Origin announced the closing of its online auction for the very first New Shepard seat. In their news release, the aerospace company disclosed that there were about 7,600 people who registered for the auction across 159 countries.
The auction winner, whose identity was not disclosed, is set to join Jeff and his younger brother Mark in a flight expected to last for about 11 minutes. People expect the name of this mystery bidder to be revealed in the following weeks leading up to the flight, together with the name of the fourth crew member on the flight.
Additionally, the $28 million will be donated to the humanitarian arm of Blue Origin, Club for the Future, which aims to "inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and to help invent the future of life in space."
A Great Leap for Tourism Flights
Space tourism is an emerging aspect of exploration and space flights: one geared toward recreational, leisure, or even businesses. Before Blue Origin sets off with its first New Shepard seat, orbital space tourism - or bringing tourists to the Earth's orbit - has been only done by the Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.
Aside from Blue Origin, other private aerospace companies are also looking at the potential of bringing ordinary citizens near the vastness of outer space. SpaceX, the aerospace company, founded by Elon Musk, announced in February that it aims to launch a Falcon 9 rocket "no earlier than the fourth quarter of this year" for the Inspiration4 program. Tagged the world's first all-commercial astronaut mission, it will be launched from the Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be led by the billionaire and pilot Jared Isaacman, plus three more people into low Earth orbit through a Crew Dragon spacecraft for two to four days. Isaacman, the CEO of digital payment firm Shift4Payments, has donated $100 million to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis and aims to raise another $100 million through public donors.
Another space tourism firm, Axiom Space from Houston, Texas, is poised to set three affluent members into space as a part of its AX-1 mission. The "first private ISS crew" in history includes a retired Israeli Air Force pilot, an American real estate tycoon, and a Canadian shareholder under the command of a NASA Veteran and now Axiom Space VP Michael Lopez-Alegria. Each of the three philanthropists paid $55 million for their seats in a SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule set to fly next year.
About Blue Origin
First founded in 2000 by Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin aims to make space travel more affordable and more reliable by advancing reusable launch spacecraft. One of its most successful works is the New Shepard suborbital launch vehicle, which began its prototype flights back in 2006 - with its first uncrewed flight testing started in 2015.
Check out more news and information on Blue Origin in Science Times.