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Blue Origin set to reveal highest bid so far in space tourism auction

Blue Origin is about to reveal the highest bid submitted during the initial private phase of an auction for its first space tourist seat.

The company’s first-ever crewed flight aboard its New Shepard rocket is set to take place on July 20 and will transport the crew to around 62 miles above Earth in a launch-to-landing experience lasting about 10 minutes.

Blue Origin began the auction on May 5, and this week, on Wednesday, May 19, it will reveal the highest bid made so far.

The bidding process will then go public, with participants having to exceed the highest offer to have a chance at bagging the first tourist seat for July’s highly anticipated flight.

The final stage of the auction will take place on June 12 with a live online session that could see bidders putting down big bucks as they battle for the coveted seat.

The proceeds from the winning bid will go to Blue Origin’s Club for the Future foundation, which aims to “inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] and help invent the future of life in space.”

Blue Origin’s first space tourist will undergo training prior to July’s suborbital space adventure, though it shouldn’t be too demanding as the trip itself will mostly involve sitting in a seat, floating about a bit when they reach the Kármán line (an altitude of about 62 miles that’s generally considered the edge of space), admiring the stunning views, and finally bracing inside the capsule for a parachute-assisted landing.

The mission will take place at Blue Origin’s spaceport in West Texas, the site of 14 successful test flights over the past six years using the company’s reusable New Shepard rocket.

Assuming the first crewed flight goes according to plan, Blue Origin, which is led by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, could move swiftly toward the launch of regular tourism flights using the same transportation system.

The company is competing with the likes of Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, though the latter is using far more sophisticated launch vehicles and will provide longer, orbital experiences to space tourists. SpaceX’s first tourism mission is slated for September 15. Virgin Galactic, which is still testing its hardware, recently unveiled a new space plane for its upcoming service.

Blue Origin is yet to reveal pricing for its space tourism service, though it has previously said it will be priced competitively. This means a seat is likely to cost around $250,000 as that’s what Virgin Galactic is charging for a similar experience.

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Trevor Mogg
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