Billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ spaceflight company Blue Origin announced Tuesday that it would auction off one of the seats on its first-ever crewed mission scheduled to blast off this summer.
The New Shepard rocket’s launch is scheduled for July 20, 2021, the date of NASA’s historic 1969 Apollo 11 mission during which astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became the first humans to set foot on the moon.
“On July 20th, #NewShepard will fly its first astronaut crew to space. We are offering one seat on this first flight to the winning bidder of @BlueOrigin’s online auction,” Blue Origin wrote in an Instagram post detailing the bid.
“Starting today, anyone can place an opening bid by going to BlueOrigin.com. The winning bid amount will be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, @ClubforFuture, to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and help invent the future of life in space,” it continued. “This seat will change how you see the world. #GradatimFerociter”
The three-phase online auction of one of the New Shepard’s six seats will run through mid-June.
In a release explaining the auction, Blue Origin said that the first phase of sealed online bidding will take place from May 5 through May 19, unsealed bidding starts on May 19 and the bidding concludes with a live online auction on June 12.
Any individual is able to bid any amount they want on the seat, according to the company.
Blue Origin has flown 15 uncrewed test missions with New Shepard thus far, including the NS-15’s April 14 “rehearsal.”
As Space.com reported Wednesday, New Shepard consists of both a reusable rocket and a capsule.
It is also designed to bring research payloads on brief trips – 11-minute flights – to suborbital space.
Musk, too, has dreams of a rapidly reusable rocket.
“It’s a tough vehicle because we’re trying to crack this nut of a fully and rapidly reusable rocket,” Musk said in a NASA news conference on April 23. “Somebody’s got to do this. And, if you have rapid and complete reusability, then that is the gateway to the heavens.”
The SpaceX Starship SN15 prototype – to be used both for commercial spaceflight and for NASA’s Artemis Program – landed successfully for the first time on Wednesday night.
Blue Origin also landed a services contract with NASA earlier this year for its “New Glenn” orbital launch vehicle, also in support of Artemis, which is eligible for orders through June 2025 and missions through the end of 2027.