Blue Origin is planning to launch its first crew into space on July 20 – and a seat on this inaugural spaceflight is up for auction.
There will be three stages to this process. Anyone can enter a sealed bid from May 5: all you have to do is fill out a form containing personal and contact information, and say how much you’re willing to pay to go space.
On May 19, Blue Origin will unseal the auction, and people must place the high bid to continue. Finally, on June 12, the richest person highest bidder and thus winning space tourist will be determined at auction held live online.
“The winning bid amount will be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and help invent the future of life in space,” the Jeff-Bezos-founded biz announced this week.
You’ll have to meet a few requirements to fly in a capsule attached to Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket, however. First, only those over the age of 18 will be considered. Second, there are few physical conditions: you must weigh between 110 and 223lbs (50 to 100kg), and be between 5’0” and 6’4” (1.52 and 1.95 meters) tall, and be able to climb seven flights of stairs in less than 90 seconds.
You have to be dexterous enough to zip up your own spacesuits and fasten your own seat belts. Finally, it's no good if you’re afraid of heights or if you have a weak bladder. You can watch a demonstration of the capsule safety system below to let you know what you're getting yourself into. Blue Origin has flown its machines into space more than a dozen times now, though none with any people onboard.
Blue Origin plans to take a crew of up to six people into space; some with paid-for tickets, and some presumably suitably skilled staff. Besides the auction, it hasn’t revealed how much it’s charging for a return ticket onboard its capsule nor how it will select the rest of its crew. The Register has asked the biz for further details. Considering seats for other commercial space companies, such as Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, are going to the tune of $250,000, you can assume it won’t be cheap.
Blue Origin is only committing to taking its customers as far as the Kármán line, a region 100km or 62 miles above sea level, the boundary where Earth’s atmosphere and the void of space meets. For context, the International Space Station orbits 400km above the surface of our home world.
If you snag a ticket, you’ll takeoff from the Blue Origin launch site in West Texas, and be back on terra firma in about ten to twelve minutes from liftoff. As for safety precautions, Blue Origin can eject the capsule to detach from the rocket’s booster if there’s an issue and land safely back on Earth with the help of parachutes.
So what do you get for the money? The chance to call yourself an astronaut, by distance and money at least. ®