Story at a glance

  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s space tourism company is offering one civilian passenger a seat on the inaugural Blue Origin flight into space.
  • The length of time in space will last 11 minutes in total.
  • The maximum bid is set at $50,000.

On Thursday, Blue Origin, the fledgling space tourism company founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, announced it will be sending its first astronaut crew into space and letting a single civilian bid to be the first commercial passenger aboard. 

The flight will occur on July 20, and all passengers will be aboard the New Shepard rocket that launches a single capsule with travelers into space for an 11-minute ride. The capsule is designed to carry six passengers at a time. 

“We are offering one seat on this first flight to the winning bidder of an online auction,” the announcement says. 

The auction to win a seat aboard the New Shepard runs from May 5 to 19, with a sealed online bidding process. 

By May 19, bids become visible — or unsealed — and the online auction takes place. The seat will go to the highest bidder. 

The bidding limit is set at $50,000, with a $10,000-dollar deposit required for bidding in excess. 

A $10,000 cash deposit is also required for bidders who cannot provide credit.

The money generated from the auction will be donated to the company’s charitable arm, Club for the Future, which aims to inspire younger generations to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) with an emphasis on space exploration and science. 

Blue Origin, which was originally founded in 2000, has developed more quietly than contemporaries like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. 

Its New Shepard passenger vehicle had been undergoing safety and functional tests since 2012, having launched 15 successful consecutive missions. Three of these included successful escape tests to ensure the crew can evacuate safely.

Published on May 06, 2021