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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
May 4, 2021 - Science

Government cash is king for private spaceflight

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The public fights between Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk over their space companies point to a broader truth in the space industry: There isn't enough money to go around.

Why it matters: The promise of commercial human spaceflight still hinges on billions of dollars of investment from the U.S. government.

Investors fear inflation, labor shortages in second half of 2021

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Investors entered 2021 concerned about the transition to a new U.S. president, the form of new fiscal stimulus, the distribution of vaccines and the reopening of the economy. Now, top risks include supply chain bottlenecks, labor shortages, inflation and slower GDP growth.

Why it matters: Stocks have rallied almost unabated for over a year, leaving many to wonder if the market is overdue for a big selloff. Last week's declines amplify those concerns.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump works refs ahead of book barrage

Graphic: Axios Visuals

Former President Trump has given at least 22 interviews for 17 different books since leaving office, with authors lining up at Mar-a-Lago as he labors to shape a coming tsunami of Trump tomes, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Trump advisers see the coming book glut as proof that interest in "POTUS 45," as they call him, has never been higher. These advisers know that most of the books will paint a mixed picture, at best. But Trump is working the refs with charm, spin and dish.