A ticket to go into space next month with Jeff Bezos sold for nearly $ 30 million, including commission, at a charity auction on Saturday, said Blue Origin LLC, the space company founded by the billionaire.
The winner of the live phone auction was not revealed on Saturday (Blue Origin said it had final paperwork to complete), but is expected to be named in two weeks.
The awardee will be among the passengers on the first crewed launch of the New Shepard vehicle planned for July 20 and will spend a few minutes in space with Bezos, his brother Matt Bezos and an anonymous fourth aspiring astronaut.
The bidding opened Saturday at $ 4.9 million and quickly rose to $ 10 million before four participants competed to finally raise the price to $ 28 million. A 6% buyers commission is added to the winning bid, bringing the final cost to $ 29.7 million. Blue Origin said 7,600 bidders from 159 countries registered for the event.
Proceeds go to the charity Blue Origin Club for the Future, which focuses on encouraging young people to take an interest in space, math and science.
Next month’s mission marks the beginning of a new chapter for the long-delayed space tourism industry, where Richard Branson’s Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.
have competed to carry the first paying passenger in a reusable vehicle.
The winning bid was more than 10 times the highest auction price before Bezos announced Monday that it would be part of the 10-minute flight to the edge of space and back in a six-passenger capsule.
Bezos will be stepping down as Amazon.com Inc.‘s
CEO on July 5 after leading the company for more than two decades. He has invested heavily in Blue Origin, contributing approximately $ 1 billion a year.
The New Shepard is autonomous, without a pilot, and the winning bidder will have just six weeks to prepare for the mission. Passengers must sign a form waiving their right to sue Mr. Bezos’ Blue Origin in the event of an accident. The company said minimal training is required and they don’t have to pass a medical exam, just complete the physical requirements, including being able to run to the top of the company’s launch tower, roughly seven flights of stairs, in 90 seconds and fit into a spacesuit.
Blue Origin has conducted 15 successful unmanned launches with the rocket over the past six years from its base in West Texas. The capsule is designed to parachute back and land close after a flight that will include a few minutes of weightlessness.
Passengers will be able to unbuckle and move around the cabin during the weightless period, Blue Origin said.
Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have said they are following rigorous testing and safety standards as they prepare to open ticket sales. Analysts expect the flights to cost up to $ 500,000 for a brief climb and descent that includes several minutes of weightlessness.
Blue Origin flights take about 10 minutes. Virgin Galactic takes more than two hours because the spacecraft is launched from a plane that must first ascend to a great height. Branson has said that he hopes to be part of a test flight later this year.
Write to Doug Cameron at [email protected]
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