What would you be willing to pay to travel to space with Jeff Bezos?
For at least one person, the answer is $28 million, an incredible figure that was bought in a live auction Saturday for a ticket on Bezos' Blue Origin space company's first human spaceflight.
The winner's identity won't be revealed for a few weeks, according to the corporation, leading to conjecture over who the mysterious bidder might be. Do you want to be a tech entrepreneur? Is he a well-off foreigner? Or a would-be astronaut backed by a government who would be the first person from his or her country to travel to space?
Whoever it is will be able to board New Shepard's capsule alongside Bezos, his brother Mark, and a fourth, yet-to-be-named crew member for a thrilling 10-minute voyage to the edge of space. The flight will take off from the company's launch pad in West Texas on July 20, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.
The trip, according to Blue Origin, will be life-changing, allowing passengers to observe the Earth from afar, gaze up at the dark sky overhead, and marvel at the Earth's curve. It will also pave the way for additional flights to come as the business ramps up commercial operations, flying paying passengers out of the atmosphere on a regular basis.
The auction drew roughly 7,600 buyers from 159 nations, pushing the price much over what some firm officials had anticipated. Blue Origin takes its New Shepard capsule to a height of around 65 miles, where passengers can unbuckle and experience four minutes of weightlessness. The $28 million is approximately half the price of a journey to the International Space Station, where they'll live and work for roughly a week before returning on SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft.
Blue Origin's auction proceeds will benefit the company's charity, Club for the Future, which promotes future generations to pursue jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in order to "help invent the future of life in space."
The auction takes place at a time when several companies are working to fly a slew of private astronauts. Blue Origin's main competitor in the suborbital space tourism market, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, recently completed its third human spaceflight mission.
Before boarding the company's space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo, for his voyage, Branson was intended to allow one more test flight. However, he has a burning desire to go to space for years, and the corporation has left the possibility of allowing him to fly earlier in order to compete with Bezos open.
Elon Musk's SpaceX, which uses a considerably more powerful rocket, the Falcon 9, is also planning multiple private astronaut flights. Unlike Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, who launch their spacecraft on ballistic trajectories that fly practically straight up before crashing back down, SpaceX launches its Dragon spacecraft at 17,500 mph into orbit around the Earth.
At a cost of $55 million each seat, it has multiple voyages planned to transport passengers to the International Space Station.
Bidders for the seat were expected to pay a premium, according to Blue Origin officials. After 15 test flights with no humans on board, this is the company's first human spaceflight mission. For some, flying beside Bezos would have been an appealing proposition. When tickets go on sale, the business has not specified how much it will charge the general public for seats. Before stopping sales, Virgin Galactic had charged $250,000. They will be more expensive when they return later this year, according to the manufacturer. It hasn't stated a price, but analysts predict it will be around $500,000.
Following the auction, Blue Origin stated that it would contact the runners-up in order to sign them up for future flights.
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