Jun 11, 2021 - Science

Blue Origin's auction for a trip to space is ending

A Blue Origin rocket takes flight

A Blue Origin New Shepard rocket takes flight. Photo: Blue Origin

Blue Origin's auction of a seat on the company's first passenger flight to space comes to an end on Saturday with a live webcast of the event.

Why it matters: The company's first crewed suborbital flight will kick off its bid to send paying tourists up to the edge of space, a market expected to grow in the coming years.

What's happening: Blue Origin will air a webcast of the live auction via their website starting at 12:45 p.m. ET on Saturday. More than 7,500 people from 159 countries have registered to take part, according to the company.

  • The high bid ahead of the live auction is $4.8 million.
  • Once it was announced that Jeff Bezos — the founder of the company — and his brother would be flying aboard this first crewed flight, the bids started shooting up even more.
  • The proceeds from the auction will be donated to Blue Origin's Club for the Future foundation focused on inspiring kids to go into STEM fields.

How it works: Blue Origin's New Shepard system is designed to launch a crew of six about 62 miles above the Earth, allowing the passengers to feel weightlessness and see Earth against the blackness of space.

  • The reusable rocket comes down for a landing while the capsule falls back to Earth under parachutes.
  • The whole flight takes about 11 minutes.

The big picture: Blue Origin isn't the only company looking to break into the suborbital tourism business.

  • Virgin Galactic is also working to get its system flying commercially this year, with one report from Parabolic Arc suggesting the company is moving quickly to try to fly its founder Richard Branson before Bezos goes up with Blue Origin.
  • An early ticket to fly with Virgin Galactic cost $250,000 but the company is re-evaluating its pricing and hasn't announced a new cost per seat, thought it has said it will be higher than the cost of an early ticket.
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