Blue Origin has finally announced the date for the first crewed flight of its New Shepard rocket, and one seat is available for a space tourist.
The company led by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced this week that New Shepard’s first-ever crewed mission will take place on July 20, 2021.
The space tourist will be the winning bidder of an online auction that anyone can join, with the proceeds going to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, which, in the company’s own words, aims to “inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] and help invent the future of life in space.”
The auction will consist of three phases. First, between May 5 and 19, interested folks can bid any amount they like to have a chance of winning the seat for the sub-orbital space trip. All bids are sealed, so no one will know how much you bid (though we think you’re going to have to go a little higher than 10 bucks to have a chance).
On May 19, the bids will be made public and participants will have to exceed the highest bid to continue in the auction.
Finally, on June 12, the bidding will conclude with a live online auction to choose Blue Origin’s first-ever space tourist.
Blue Origin’s suborbital space trips will last for around 10 minutes, transporting six passengers at a time to around 62 miles above the surface of Earth. The experience will offer amazing vistas through the capsule’s large windows, as well as a short period of weightlessness where those on board will be able to leave their seats and float around inside the spacecraft. It will then return to Earth and perform a parachute-assisted landing near Blue Origin’s spaceport in West Texas.
This test flight by Blue Origin a couple of years ago offers a clear idea — from launch to landing — of the kind of experience the first crew is likely to enjoy.
Blue Origin has achieved 14 successful test flights of its reusable New Shepard rocket since 2015, with the company now finally ready to send its first crew on the trip of a lifetime. Assuming everything goes to plan, Blue Origin will be looking to launch a regular space tourism service possibly by the end of this year.
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