Amazon CEO and controversial billionaire Jeff Bezos obviously has an aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services company. Duh.
It’s called Blue Origin, and its aim is to preserve Earth by expanding, exploring, finding new energy and material resources and moving industries that stress Earth into space. Basically, it’s a company dedicated to space travel and technology, that will hopefully benefit Earth in future generations.
For a while now, Blue Origin has been developing partially and fully reusable launch vehicles that are safe, low cost and serve the needs of all civil, commercial and defence customers.
An upcoming venture, Blue Origin’s first autonomous spacecraft, New Shepard, is scheduled to fly from Blue Origin’s West Texas spaceport to the edge of space, with one seat on board currently on auction.
That’s right, you can buy a spot on this spacecraft, without being an astronaut.
Blue Origin has begun unsealing the bids for an open seat on its New Shepard suborbital spaceship, and the high bid has already hit the USD $2.8 million mark with more than three weeks to go in the online auction.
Understandably, the auction has brought out more than 5,200 bidders across 136 countries. Bidding started on May 5 and will conclude with a live auction grand finale on June 12. Proceeds from the auctions are set to be donated to Blue Origin’s educational foundation, the Club for the Future.
The highest bidder will fill one of the six seats on New Shepard’s first crewed flight, on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, scheduled for July 20. The other five seats will be filled by Blue Origin employees or VIPs. The winner will also receive two days of training before the launch (thank GOD).
Passengers on board the autonomously controlled New Shepard spaceship, are said to experience 60 seconds of weightlessness and an astronaut’s-eye view of the curving Earth beneath the black sky of space. New Shepard’s crew capsule is designed to make a soft landing, with the aid of a parachute and retrorocket blast, while the booster makes a separate autonomous landing.
In case you’re wondering what an autonomous spacecraft means, it’s just like an autonomous car – it drives itself. Every person on board the New Shepard will be a passenger; as it doesn’t require a driver. The aircraft is environmentally friendly, using its own reusable suborbital rocket system and is designed to take astronauts and research payloads past the Kármán line – the internationally recognised boundary of space.
Blue Origin had been flight testing the New Shepard for six years, until last year in April, when Bezos declared that it was time to put people on board.
With the high bid being made public for the first time today, the original amount was $1.4 million, so clearly it didn’t take long for bids to climb upwards from there. It’s somewhat unsurprising, given that this is the first-ever time something like this has been on offer.
We’re kind of sad that we’re not millionaires, because this sounds like a true once-in-a-lifetime experience.