The rocket company of American billionaire Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin, has disclosed that the current highest bid for a seat on its New Shepard spacecraft was $2.4 million in the ongoing second round of auction.
The company said it received more than 5,200 bidders from 136 countries in the first round of auction, the highest bid from which was not disclosed as the round was sealed. The second round was kicked off with an initial bid of $1.4 million, according to the Blue Origin website. The process will last until June 10 and conclude in a final phase on June 12, with a live online auction.
The rocket company is targeting July 20 for its first suborbital sightseeing trip on its spacecraft, a landmark moment in a competition to bring in a new era of private commercial space travel.
The New Shepherd Rocket
The New Shepard rocket-and-capsule combo is designed to autonomously fly six passengers more than 62 miles (100 km) above Earth into suborbital space, high enough to witness a few minutes of weightlessness and see the planet’s curvature before the pressurized capsule returns to Earth under parachutes. The capsule has six observation windows that are nearly three times as tall as those on a Boeing Co 747 jetliner, according to Blue Origin.
Although celebrities and the ultra-wealthy tend to be a key market for space tourist jaunts, industry sources expect Blue Origin to include a philanthropic aspect in its ticket strategy, at least initially.
Reports from as early as 2018 suggested that Blue Origin was planning to charge passengers at least $200,000 for the ride, based on a comparison with rival plans from billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings and other considerations, though its plans may have changed now.
The company was founded by eCommerce giant Amazon owner Jeff Bezos in 2000. It aims to transform space travel and colonize the solar system. Blue Origin has been flight testing New Shepard and its safety systems since 2012. The program has had 15 successful consecutive missions including three successful escape tests, showing the crew escape system can activate safely in any phase of flight.