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The proceeds obtained from the auction will be donated to Blue Origin’s education-focused nonprofit Club for the Future.
American privately funded aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight, Blue Origin has auctioned off a ticket slot for a seat on its first crewed spaceflight mission. According to a CNBC report, the Blue Origin spaceflight will be via the New Shepard Rocket and is billed to feature four passengers in total, including the company’s founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark, the auction winner, and one yet to be named person.
Blue Origin has been working on a mission to make both orbital and sub-orbital spaceflight a reality since it was established in 2000. The company has been flight testing New Shepard and its redundant safety systems since 2012, and in total, it has conducted about 15 successful testflights. The auction for the crewed mission started at $4.8 million and within minutes, the figures went above $20 million. According to the company, the winning bid crested at $28 million, and the winner will be unveiled in the coming weeks. The flight is scheduled for July 20, 2021.
New Shepard carries a capsule with the capability to fly as many as 6 people on board. The capsule has large windows for passengers to be able to get a unique view of the earth. The rocket can fly to an altitude of 340,000 feet, reaching a suborbital height in which the rocket will stay afloat at zero gravity for three minutes before returning to earth. Per the design of the New Shepard rocket, both the capsule and the booster will separate while approaching the top of the flight.
The boost will reenter the earth’s atmosphere via a vertical, autonomous landing while the capsule is bound to descend minutes later through the help of parachutes. Per the model showcased on the company’s website, the capsule will experience a gentle landing with a speed of 1.6km/h at the West Texas Desert.
The proceeds obtained from the auction will be donated to Blue Origin’s education-focused nonprofit Club for the Future. This non-profit is dedicated to kids with a desire to study STEM-based courses in the future.
How Blue Origin Spaceflight Compares to Major Rivals
The trio is making major headways in their pursuits to make spaceflights a reality, especially for non-astronauts, each has its uniqueness in design and potential costs of carrying passengers. While Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are focused on suborbital flights (that is short-time flights to the edge of space), SpaceX is more ambitious with orbital flights under a multi-day arrangement.
Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, though designed to run with rockets, differ in their mode of launching. The former launches from the ground, vertically while the latter is released mid-air and returns to the earth for an aircraft-like landing on a runway according to a CNBC report. Another major difference between both is that the Virgin Galactic system needs two pilots, in contrast with Blue Origins which runs autonomously.
Per pricing, Virgin Galactic has been selling tickets $200,000 to $250,000 against the $28 million for Blue Origin. SpaceX notably charges NASA as much as $55 million per seat for spaceflights to the International Space Station (ISS).