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$28m scores mystery bidder right to breathe same air as Amazon kingpin Jeff Bezos in Blue Origin flight

Burning dollars faster than liquid oxygen and hydrogen

$28m has secured someone a seat on the first crewed flight of Blue Origin's New Shepard, with the mystery bidder scoring the right to breathe the same air as fellow passenger Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Bezos had previously confirmed that he and his brother, Mark, would be strapped into the capsule atop the reusable rocket on 20 July.

Bidding for a seat to accompany the billionaire began in the low millions and stood at a shade under $5m by the end of the last week. An auction on Saturday resulted in a final ticket price more than five times higher at $28m.

Almost half of the amount that kind old Amazon has had to cough up for stiffing its drivers of their tips.

Not that the cash from the winning bid will go anywhere near Amazon's coffers; the amount is to be donated to Blue Origin's foundation, Club for the Future.

The live auction was completed in less time than it will take the capsule to perform its sub-orbital hop. The booster likely to make the flight, the fourth in the New Shepard line, has conducted two previous launches and landings, both of which went comfortably past the 100km mark.

It is, however, considerably lower than the 115 miles (185km) reached just over 60 years ago by US astronaut Alan Shepard in the Freedom 7 capsule.

Yet Bezos and company will be considerably more comfortable than the first US 'naut. They will also get better views when they unstrap for a bit of floating fun before the capsule makes its return to earth via parachutes and landing rockets.

$28m does seem a bit steep. It has been less than 20 years since Canonical boss Mark Shuttleworth took his own trip to space. His jaunt – for a stay on the ISS rather than a swift up-and-down – cost a reported $20m, although prices have risen at an eyewatering rate since then.

As for that 20 July flight, there remains a final seat to be filled before Bezos and his well-heeled chum can embark on their brief trip to space. ®

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