by Douglas Messier
An anonymous person bid $28 million on Saturday to fly into space next month along with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
The winning bidder will join Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, and a yet-to-be-named fourth person on July 20 for the first crewed flight of New Shepard suborbital vehicle from Blue Origin’s west Texas launch facility. The entire flight will last 10 to 11 minutes, which will include three minutes of weightlessness at a peak altitude of about 105 km (65.25 miles).
Blue Origin said it will reveal the winning bidder in about two weeks after all the legal paperwork is completed. Then the fourth passenger in the six-seat capsule will be revealed.
Final bidding for the seat was streamed live online after a three-week auction that saw a top bid of $4.8 million. It took about eight minutes for the bids to rise to the final total of $28 million.
The winning bidder will actually pay $29.68 million when the six percent commission is added to the total. That amounts to $2,968,000 per minute assuming a 10-minute flight. The winner will undergo two days of training prior to the July 20 flight.
Blue Origin said it would contact unsuccessful bidders to offer them seats on future flights. The company has not yet started to sell seats to the public, nor has it set a price for them.
Proceeds from the auction will go to Blue Origin’s non-profit organization, Club for the Future, which encourages youth to pursue careers in STEM and to help build humanity’s future in space.
Bezos’ space company has launched the fully-reusable New Shepard 15 times without anyone aboard. Blue Origin succeeded in landing the capsule under parachutes on 15 occasions while the rocket landed safely under engine power 14 times. The rocket crashed on the first flight test after it separated from the capsule.