On Saturday, an unknown enthusiast offered a shocking $28 million to win a web-based auction for a ticket on the New Shepard spacecraft and the chance to join Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder, and rocket owner, on a commercial space flight.
The bid for the ten- to twelve-minute suborbital trip began at $4.8 million. It increased to $10 million in less than two minutes, then doubled to $20 million one minute and ten seconds later. The winning offer of $28 million was accepted a little over 6 minutes after the final round.
Steve Little, the auctioneer, declared with excitement that it had been sold for $28 million to the 107th position holder.
Blue Origin, Bezos’ rocket business, said in a tweet that the winner’s identity would be revealed in the weeks after the auction. It further stated that after that, the fourth and last team member would be named and asked everyone to keep themselves tuned in.
On July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Blue Origin’s six-seater New Shepard spacecraft will transport Bezos, his brother Mark, the unidentified auction winner, and one other passenger on a brief, up-and-down voyage to the lowest realms of space.
The reusable, single-stage New Shepard rocket will launch from a company test site in Van Horn, Texas, and will lift the crew capsule to a height of just over 62 miles, the globally acknowledged “border” of space, before arcing over for a parachute landing back on Earth.
Bezos and his crewmates will spend almost three minutes in weightlessness at the peak of the trajectory, taking in stunning views of the Earth via six windows that the firm claims are the biggest ever flown in space.
Blue Origin launched the auction on May 5, a dramatic way to herald the company’s readiness to begin transporting humans to space after 15 successful unmanned test flights. One month later, on June 7, Bezos and his brother Mark revealed on Instagram that they would accompany the auction winner on the historic trip.
Nearly 7,600 individuals from 159 countries enrolled in the auction, and the top 20 bidders, who remain anonymous, competed in Saturday’s final round. The winning offer was subject to a 6% charge.
The money will benefit Blue Origin’s charity, “Club for the Future,” which the firm said in a previous statement intends to inspire “the future generation as they consider millions of people living and working in space… which is exactly Blue Origin’s ambition.
Blue Origin has not yet revealed the standard price for New Shepard seats, although they are estimated to cost in the area of several hundred thousand dollars per ticket.
Bezos has said that yearly with billions of dollars he supports Blue Origin and the construction of sub-orbital rockets for commercial, up-and-down flights to space, as well as bigger, more powerful rockets for launching satellites, and ultimately humans, to orbit and beyond.
The forthcoming New Shepard voyage is planned to be the first to transport only civilian passengers to space on a privately produced spaceship without the presence of business or government pilots.
While citizens have previously travelled aboard US and Russian spacecraft as guests or paying passengers, such flights were government-sponsored and piloted by professional astronauts. Virgin Galactic, founded by Branson, has taken company pilots and engineers into space on suborbital test flights, all of them civilians, but no members of the public so far.
Following Bezos’ announcement, speculation has swirled that Virgin Galactic would attempt to outdo Blue Origin by putting Branson on a test flight during the 4th of July holiday weekend.
However, Bezos and Blue Origin will undoubtedly retain the distinction of conducting the first fully commercial space voyage, transporting the first non-company, non-government individuals to space onboard a privately owned and managed spaceship.
Musk’s business, SpaceX, has previously sent human teams to NASA’s International Space Station and expects to conduct the world’s first entirely commercial orbital trip in September. Commercial flights are projected to increase.
Regardless of how history books remember it, the Blue Origin mission fulfilled a longstanding ambition for Bezos and served as a dramatic demonstration of his confidence in the safety of his company’s rocket and spacecraft, mirroring Branson’s long-stated aim of flying on his company’s spaceplane.
Bezos said that you view the Earth from space, and it alters your perception of it; it alters your connection with the planet, with humankind. Bezos announced his trip on Instagram, stating that he wanted to take this flight because it was something he had always wanted to do. It’s a journey and a significant event for him. He has also requested his brother to accompany him on this first journey since they are the closest of friends.