Jeff Bezos’ space venture Blue Origin auctioned off a seat Saturday on its first crewed spaceflight scheduled on July 20. Nearly 7,600 people from 159 countries registered to take part in the auction. The winning bidder, whose name wasn’t released, will fly to the edge of space with the Amazon founder and his brother Mark. He will pay for this $28 million but a seat on a suborbital spacecraft is typically much less expensive. Bidding opened at $4.8 million. The name wasn’t released. It will be announced soon, in the coming weeks. The winning bid amount will be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, @ClubforFuture, which aims to teach children about space and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
In fact, New Shepard’s first passenger flight will carry four people, including Bezos, his brother, the auction winner and a fourth person to be announced later, in the 11-minute flight. The capsule It’s designed to carry up to six people in suborbital tourism and flies autonomously, without needing a pilot. Blue Origin’s system launches vertically, to an altitude of over 340,000 feet, and both the rocket and capsule are reusable. The planned flight includes about three minutes in zero gravity, before returning to Earth. As it was disclosed, following the auction, the most competitive bidders will be contacted to take a ride on future flights.