The bid to ride in Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin spacecraft has reached 2.8 million dollars, according to their website. At this price, it would cost $4,242 for every second of the eleven-minute flight. Since the bidding started on May 5th, 2021, 5,200 people have bid, with the final–and live–online auction slated for June 12th. The trip is scheduled for July 20, 2021.
What does $2.8 million get you?
Most of your experience during the flight will be liftoff and reentry into the atmosphere, according to their website. The time the ship spends above the Kármán line—the altitude where space begins—is a little less than a minute long. Weightlessness occurs for about three minutes, from the third-minute mark, when the ship enters zero gravity, to the sixth minute, when you will have to rebuckle for reentry. The rest of your experience will be buckled in, along with five other—professional—crew members.
The ship is designed with space tourism in mind. Each reclining seat has a massive window–stretching three feet tall–and tablet-sized screens that show info about the flight. There is also the option to talk with ground control during the flight.
The astronauts will report to Blue Origin’s launching facilities in Van Horn, Texas four days prior to liftoff. For three days they will train with safety measures. While space tourists don’t have enough time to learn how to manually control the capsule, they will practice emergency scenarios and learn how to handle the capsule’s fire suppression systems.
History of Blue Origin
Even before Bezos focused his attention on Blue Origin, after stepping down from his role as CEO of Amazon, New Shepard (the vehicle) has been in the making with testing happening since 2012. Their first launch occurred in 2015. The company has been around since 2000, and in 2015 they landed a reusable rocket, making history.
Besides New Shepard, the suborbital rocket, Blue Origin is developing a lunar lander called Blue Moon to explore the moon’s surface. “People are very excited about this capability to soft-land their cargo, their rovers, their science experiments onto the surface of the moon in a precise way,” says Bezos. Blue Origin plans for Blue Moon to carry astronauts to the moon’s lunar surface by 2024, in concert with NASA’s Artemis Program.
Rival space tourism
Virgin Galactic has already sold about 600 tickets at a competitive price — $200,000 to $250,000 — but the company expects to increase their prices significantly. Meantime, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is allowing people to stay for ten days on a capsule for a staggering $55 million. Even Boeing plans on getting in on the action with a crew capsule flight set for the end of 2021’s summer, with estimated costs of seats being even more than SpaceX, at more than $90 million. Makes Blue Origin’s flight seem like a bargain. Maybe you can use points?
Rocket travel not for everyone
Space tourism might be the way of the future, but we have a long way until it’s accessible to everyone. New Shepard has only been testing since 2015, and this would be the first launch with actual astronauts.
While the mission statement looks to the future — hoping to colonize planets and guarantee a spot for humanity among the heavens — for most of the world, there won’t be a spot on any spaceship for a long time.