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Blue Origin's Mannequin Skywalker test dummy inside of the New Shepard during flight. Photo: Blue Origin Media

Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin is planning to launch people to the edge of space for the first time in July, and one seat will go to the highest bidder.

Why it matters: The flight would mark the start of Blue Origin making good on its promise to send paying customers to suborbital space, opening a new market for space tourism.

Driving the news: The company announced today that its first suborbital flight with its New Shepard spacecraft and rocket will fly on July 20.

  • Details about the mission haven't been released, but the company is planning to auction off one seat to benefit its foundation, Club for the Future.
  • From May 5-19, the bids submitted will be secret, but on May 19, the bidding will become visible "and participants must exceed the highest bid to continue in the auction," according to Blue Origin.
  • On June 12, the company will close out the contest with a live online auction.

How it works: Blue Origin's New Shepard is designed to launch a group of six passengers to about 100 kilometers above the Earth, the unofficial point at which space begins.

  • The crew capsule detaches from the top of the rocket and the passengers experience weightlessness while looking out at Earth against the blackness of space.
  • From there, the booster comes back down to land vertically and the capsule returns to Earth's surface under parachutes.

The big picture: Blue Origin isn't the only company hoping to capitalize on the market for suborbital flights to space.

  • Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is also getting closer to flying its first customers as it continues a testing campaign to get its spaceplane ready.

Go deeper: You can place your own bids and sign up for more information directly through Blue Origin.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Aug 3, 2021 - Science

Boeing is getting its do-over

Boeing's Starliner awaits its launch atop an Atlas V rocket. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Boeing is set to launch a redo of an uncrewed test of its Starliner spacecraft — designed to one day carry astronauts — to the International Space Station this week.

Why it matters: This is a high-stakes test for Boeing, which failed to get its Starliner to the station during its first uncrewed test flight in December 2019.

Clinton-linked lawyer indicted in investigation of FBI's Russia probe

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

A grand jury has returned an indictment against Michael Sussmann, a lawyer whose firm represented the 2016 Clinton campaign, for lying to the FBI about not representing "any client" when he presented them with allegations about a secret Trump Organization back-channel to a Russian bank.

Why it matters: It's the second criminal charge stemming from special counsel John Durham's review of possible misconduct by the intelligence community and prosecutors who investigated the 2016 Trump campaign's ties to Russia.

Federal judge blocks Biden administration's use of Title 42 policy

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a public health order that fast-tracked deportations of migrant families at the southern border.

Why it matters: President Biden has faced significant backlash for retaining the Trump-era policy, which was implemented as a COVID containment measure. The expulsions deny adult migrants and families the chance for asylum.