Rich people are jockeying for a seat on Blue Origin’s first crewed New Shepard mission, bidding as high as $2.8 million for a ten-minute experience at the edge of space.
A single seat aboard the New Shepard crew capsule, dubbed the RSS First Step Crew Capsule, went up for auction earlier this month, starting with a sealed bidding round that drew “more than 5,200 bidders from 136 countries,” the company said in a statement yesterday. By Wednesday morning, when the auction’s open-bidding phase began, the highest bid was revealed: $1.4 million. It rose to $2.8 million by the afternoon.
RSS First Step, a gumdrop-shaped pod with seats for six, is getting set to fly its inaugural crew sometime in the next six months, with one seat reserved for the winning bidder and the rest for company-selected passengers. Proceeds from the auction will go to Blue Origin’s philanthropy, Club for the Future.
The company hasn’t revealed the ticket price for a seat — but through the auction, it’s getting a good idea of who the potential customers are and what they’re willing to pay. “Let’s say, the most active bidders, they’re gonna be very clear on our radar, so when we do go to open up those tickets, we’ll know who to go to contact,” Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin’s astronaut sales director, said earlier this month.
After this debut crewed mission in the coming months, more will follow, the company has said. From a desert in Texas, Blue Origin’s reusable 60-foot-tall New Shepard booster will launch the capsule roughly 65 miles into the sky past the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized boundary of Earth’s outermost atmosphere. The trip promises stunning views of Earth and the potential for passengers to experience the “overview effect,” a feeling described by astronauts as a shift in awareness of Earth when seeing it from space.
You’d need to drop a few stacks for that overview effect, though. The open-bidding phase for New Shepard’s seat closes on June 10th and enters a live, online auction round on Saturday, June 12th. “Participants must raise their bid limit by June 10 at 5 p.m. EDT to participate in the June 12 live auction,” a Blue Origin spokeswoman says.
The highest bid price is updated live on the company’s homepage. The number increases in increments of 10 percent, according to a person working at RR Auction Company, the Boston, Massachusetts-based firm managing the auction for Blue Origin.
The space company has test flown New Shepard 15 times so far without people on board, with the most recent flight serving as “a verification step for the vehicle and operations prior to flying astronauts.”