The era of space tourism is slowly becoming part of real life as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is taking off to the stars with an unknown bidder paying out €23 million ($28 million) for a space trip. The space tourist’s identity, who will fly on the New Shepard’s spacecraft, will be announced in a couple of weeks.
The auction for the very first seat on #NewShepard has concluded with a winning bid of $28 million. The winning bid amount will be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, @ClubforFuture. Full replay of the auction webcast: https://t.co/5Vc8IvWxJR pic.twitter.com/IlGbgOFmhx— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) June 12, 2021
1. Launch on July 20th
The 11-minute automated flight will lift off from the small town of Van Horn, Texas, on July 20, a symbolic day recalling the 52nd anniversary of the moon landing. Since 2015, a total of 15 successful test flights of Blue Origin’s reusable rocket capsules have been carried out. The New Shepard’s system will launch customers to the edge of space in a capsule designed to split from a small rocket, which will retreat back to Earth under parachutes. On July 20th, the company’s 16th flight will be the first carrying humans.
2. Popular auction
Nearly 7,600 people registered to bid from 159 countries, Blue Origin said, hoping to accompany Bezos and his brother Mark on the first launch with people on board. “Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend,” Bezos shared on Instagram.
3. Orbital flight and looming risk
A study developed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) in 2019, defined space tourism as companies that “manufacture and operate space vehicles as well as habitats in space”, creating access to space for those who can afford it and are fit to endure space flight. So far space tourism has focused on suborbital flight, but once this step has been successfully reached, orbital flight is expected to follow. However, space tourism is mostly hampered by the “unclear market size and looming risk that a catastrophic failure might halt or at least shrink the market considerably,” EIB stated.
4. Space Competition
Bezos’ space trip comes amid increasing competition between some of the world’s wealthiest men. Blue Origin is competing with Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies and the Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings to offer trips to space. Branson’s Virgin craft is expected to launch its human spaceflight test later this year, on December 11.