After 14 days, bids for the first seat on the first crewed flight of Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin have been unsealed and already top $2 million. The spaceflight is currently scheduled for July 20, the anniversary date of Neil Armstrong’s landing on the Moon. Sealed bidding began on May 5.
The company’s planned tourist flights aboard the New Shepard are suborbital, taking astronauts up to the Kármán Line, which is generally accepted as the boundary of space, about 62 miles above the Earth’s surface. The spacecraft can carry six people at a time and seating is such that everyone gets a window view. Passengers spend about 10 minutes weightless above the Earth before returning to the ground.
Other passengers for the inaugural flight have yet to be announced. The company hasn’t released information on ticket purchase and pricing for future flights, either, though the price is largely expected to be around $500,000.
The bidding is happening in the midst of a resurgence of interest in space tourism. After over a decade, tourists are signing up for trips in Russian Soyuz capsules for trips to the International Space Station via Virginia-based company Space Adventures, including billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. SpaceX is targeting September for the launch of billionaire Jared Isaacman’s “Inspiration 4” mission, which will send four private citizens, including Isaacman, on an orbital flight in a Dragon capsule.
The Richard Branson-founded space company, Virgin Galactic, is also finally prepping to begin commercial operations. It recently unveiled its newest spacecraft design, and the company is expected to soon commence a series of crucial test flights over the next few months that will open the door for its customers (some of who bought their tickets over a decade ago) to finally lift off to suborbital flights.
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Bidding on the first New Shepard flight will continue unsealed online through June 10, with the current bid being updated on the company’s website. On June 12, all the verified bidders will participate in a live online auction for the final price and sale of the seat. The company says that the proceeds of the auction will go toward its Club for the Future foundation, which promotes STEM education for children.