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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.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 16, 2021 - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 launches on 3-day mission in orbit

A screenshot of the rocket launching. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX's all-civilian Inspiration4 mission made history Wednesday night when it launched into orbit.

Why it matters: It's the first time a crew of amateurs has launched to orbit without a professional astronaut onboard. The mission also signals the start of a new era in space — one defined by an industry pushing to launch many more private people to orbit in the coming years.

22 mins ago - World

Israel to approve new construction in West Bank settlements

Bennett (L) and Biden discussed the settlements issue. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Israel will approve the construction of 4,400 new homes in the West Bank next week: 3,10o in the Jewish settlements and 1,300 in Palestinian villages.

Why it matters: This will be the first time Israel has approved new settlement building since President Biden assumed office, and it's the first time since 2007 that it approves a significant number of new homes for Palestinians in "Area C" of the West Bank, which is controlled by Israel.

House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House of Representatives voted 229-202 on Thursday to hold former Trump strategist Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The Justice Department will now consider bringing criminal charges against Bannon, marking a significant escalation in the Jan. 6 committee's efforts to enforce subpoenas against Trump allies who refuse to cooperate.