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.
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“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”
Blue Origin’s announcement was also made on the 60th anniversary of the United States’ first-ever human spaceflight made by astronaut Alan Shepard — the vehicle’s namesake.
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.
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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.
Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000. The company is considered a direct competitor to Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.