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posted by martyb on Sunday June 13 2021, @04:16AM   Printer-friendly
from the buying-your-way-into-the-history-books dept.

Sold! Bidder pays $28m for spare seat on space flight with Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin has sold the spare seat of the company's 20 July New Shepard space rocket blast-off for $28m, the company announced on Saturday.

With 20 active bidders starting at $4.8m during the 10-minute auction, bids escalated in the final three minutes of the sale. Initially, some 7,600 people registered to bid from 159 countries, the company said. The winner, whose identity has not been announced, will join the Amazon founder Bezos and his brother Mark on the flight.

The 11-minute, automated flight – the company's 16th but first carrying humans – will lift off from Van Horn, Texas. The capsule will carry as many as six passengers, though the company has not yet revealed who else will be onboard.

[...] The company has said the auction price will be donated to Blue Origin's foundation, Club for the Future, whose stated mission "is to inspire future generations to pursue careers in Stem (science, technology, engineering, and math) and to help invent the future of life in space".

Also at The Verge and BBC.

Previously: Jeff Bezos' Vision for Space: One Trillion Population in the Solar System
Jeff Bezos Will Fly on Blue Origin's First Human Spaceflight

Related: Branson May Make a Last-Ditch Effort to Beat Bezos Into Space


Original Submission

Related Stories

Jeff Bezos' Vision for Space: One Trillion Population in the Solar System 39 comments

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos talked about his vision for Blue Origin and humanity at the Apollo 11 Gala at Kennedy Space Center:

For Bezos, colonising space is a more a simple necessity for continued life on Earth. The compound effect of the incremental increase in energy requirements will mean us having to cover every inch of Earth in solar cells, he said, while the solar system offers virtually unlimited energy resources.

"We can harvest resources from asteroids, from Near-Earth Objects, and harvest solar energy from a much broader surface area – and continue to do amazing things," he said. The alternative, he said, was an era of stasis and stagnation on Earth, where we are forced to control population and limit energy usage per capita.

"I don't think stasis is compatible with freedom or liberty, and I sure as hell think it's going to be a very boring world – I want my grandchildren's grandchildren to be in a world of pioneering, exploration and expansion throughout the solar system."

He also suggested that exploration and colonisation of the solar system would make it possible to support one trillion people.

"Then we would have 1,000 Einstein's and 1,000 Mozarts, how cool would that be?" he said.

"What's holding us back from making that next step is that space travel is just too darned expensive because we throw the rockets away. We need to build reusable rockets and that's what Blue Origin is dedicated to."


Original Submission

Jeff Bezos Will Fly on Blue Origin's First Human Spaceflight 28 comments

Jeff Bezos says he will fly into space next month

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has revealed on Instagram that he plans to fly on Blue Origin's first human spaceflight next month.

"I want to go on this flight because it's a thing I've wanted to do all my life," Bezos, the richest person in the world, said in a post published Monday morning. "It's an adventure. It's a big deal for me."

Bezos said he invited his younger brother, Mark, whom he described as his best friend, to go along. The two brothers will join the winner of an auction for a third seat on the flight, which is set to take place on July 20 of this year. Bidding for this seat is already at $2.8 million but is likely to go higher during a live auction on July 12. Proceeds from this auction will be donated to Blue Origin's foundation, Club for the Future.

[...] Now, Bezos may not be bringing his mom on the first human flight of the vehicle—but he will be bringing a family member. This speaks to the company's, and his, confidence in the safety of New Shepard. After this mission, Blue Origin is expected to begin flying other passengers on future flights later this year. The company has not yet set a public price for tickets inside the capsule, which can carry as many as six people.


Original Submission

Branson May Make a Last-Ditch Effort to Beat Bezos Into Space 34 comments

Branson may make a last-ditch effort to beat Bezos into space:

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said on Monday he would fly on the first human spaceflight of his company's New Shepard spacecraft. This mission will launch from Blue Origin's spaceport in West Texas on July 20, which is the anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing in 1969.

With this timeline, Bezos seemed almost certain to beat his suborbital space tourism rival, Sir Richard Branson, into space. Setting aside whether Branson's VSS Unity vehicle reaches space—its maximum altitude is just below the Kármán line, or 100 km—this is nonetheless a meaningful milestone.


Original Submission

Wally Funk to Join Bezos's Suborbital Flight, Richard Branson's Suborbital Flight Set for July 11 24 comments

Blue Origin flight: Wally Funk, 82, to join Jeff Bezos space flight

An 82-year-old woman who has spent six decades trying to reach space will join Jeff Bezos on the first human flight by his space company later this month. Wally Funk, who underwent training in the 1960s, will become the oldest person to ever fly to space. Mr Bezos has invited Ms Funk as an "honoured guest" and shared video on Instagram of him telling her the news. She will join the Amazon founder, his brother Mark and a mystery person who paid $28m (£20m) at auction for a seat.

[...] Funk volunteered in 1961 for the Women in Space programme where she underwent rigorous physical and mental testing in the hope of becoming an astronaut. But the scheme was later abruptly cancelled and she and the other women - collectively known as the Mercury 13 - never made it to space with Nasa.

Game on—Sir Richard Branson will attempt to go to space on July 11

On Thursday afternoon, Virgin Galactic said its founder, British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, will attempt to go to space on July 11.

Dubbed the "Unity 22" mission, this flight on the VSS Unity spacecraft will carry a full crew of two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, and four mission specialists, including Branson. "Building on the success of the company's most recent spaceflight in May, Unity 22 will focus on cabin and customer experience objectives," the company said in a statement.

The timing of this flight is significant, because a July 11 mission would allow Branson to beat Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to space. Bezos has said he will fly on the first human flight of the New Shepard spacecraft, developed and tested by his Blue Origin rocket company. That mission is set for July 20.

Thursday had been a great day for Bezos and Blue Origin, as the company received plaudits from across the space industry for inviting Wally Funk to join Bezos on the New Shepard flight. Funk, 82, was member of the privately funded "Mercury 13" program for women who ultimately were not selected to go into space in the 1960s. She is seen as someone who really, really deserves to go to space.

But Virgin Galactic's announcement will upstage this moment for Bezos, as it furthers the "battle of the billionaires" to see who will go into space first.

Previously: Jeff Bezos Will Fly on Blue Origin's First Human Spaceflight
Branson May Make a Last-Ditch Effort to Beat Bezos Into Space
Blue Origin Auctions New Shepard Seat for $28 Million


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @05:34AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @05:34AM (#1144759)

    If people want to pay that much to go then that is their money to spend, though I wonder what the rate will be once he starts actually selling seats. Speaking of Blue Origin's charity, Club for the Future isn't listed on Charity Watch. According to Yahoo News it hasn't been around long enough to file with the IRS yet, and that was the only information I can find about them beyond a generic 'promote STEM careers' sound bite. Nothing about what they actually do or what their plan is going forward. That seems strangely appropriate.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Sunday June 13 2021, @05:54AM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Sunday June 13 2021, @05:54AM (#1144762) Journal

      https://clubforfuture.org/news/ [clubforfuture.org]

      It seems like their big initiative is getting postcards from kids, sending them into space (briefly) with New Shepard, and then mailing them back. Getting a postcard back from space is so inspirational that the kids all decide to become aerospace engineers. The charity is a nice advertisement for Blue Origin.

      They are involved with programs that might put a space-related lesson plan in front of kids:

      https://clubforfuture.org/news/25-000-postcards-soar-to-space-as-club-for-the-future-expands-collaborations-with-leading-stem-organizations/ [clubforfuture.org]

      In addition to giving students direct access to space through Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket, Club has expanded its collaborations with several leading STEM organizations to integrate the Postcards to Space program into education initiatives, as well as supported the development of space-focused curriculum and activities.

      Highlights include collaborations with the Challenger Center to develop Destination Moon, a virtual STEM experience for 7th and 8th graders to take a virtual trip to the Moon and explore the lunar surface; Microsoft Hacking STEM to enable students to use a free interactive data science project to investigate how data powers our astronauts, our space missions, and our world; and Project Ianos, a STEM education initiative funded by NASA to develop videos, curriculum, and hands-on learning tools focused on the past, present, and future of human spaceflight for 5th to 8th graders.

      Additionally, the Club’s partnership with Florida-based nonprofit STEM2 Hub on Dream Big Florida, an initiative to bring every student in Florida access to space, will extend into the 2021-2022 school year.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @09:05PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @09:05PM (#1144873)

        So lots of talk and posturing and a token gesture while other charities do the actual work. I hate to be salty about it but that is such a Blue Origin thing to do. Maybe I'm not being fair to them. Blue seems to be able to do things as long as it doesn't involve actually reaching orbit. *sigh*

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Frosty Piss on Sunday June 13 2021, @07:10AM (10 children)

    by Frosty Piss (4971) on Sunday June 13 2021, @07:10AM (#1144763)

    This is just more evidence that Blue Origin and whatever it is that the British dude is throwing money at, are not serious space programs but rather just silly Rich Person Toys.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by turgid on Sunday June 13 2021, @11:59AM (4 children)

      by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 13 2021, @11:59AM (#1144787) Journal

      The rich need to be relieved of their money somehow, so that the money can be put to work. At least these rich person's play things are vaguely positive in that there will be R&D and manufacturing involved. Things will gradually become commoditised and access to space will become much cheaper.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @09:14PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @09:14PM (#1144875)

        The first phrase describes Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. The rest describes SpaceX.

      • (Score: 2) by Nuke on Monday June 14 2021, @12:49PM (2 children)

        by Nuke (3162) on Monday June 14 2021, @12:49PM (#1145044)

        In what way is the money "put to work"? Giving rides to space tourists? A lot of it just goes on fuel which is burned up.

        • (Score: 2) by turgid on Monday June 14 2021, @01:11PM (1 child)

          by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 14 2021, @01:11PM (#1145049) Journal

          The fuel is the cheap part. The engineering costs the money, and the operations. People are paid to do that. All the time, they're honing their skills and making innovations.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15 2021, @12:40AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15 2021, @12:40AM (#1145316)

            Like how to add an additional drink holder into the seat or some other "first class" amenity?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @07:29PM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @07:29PM (#1144858)

      I hope we are subsidizing their efforts. Just lie back and think of Mars, Bezos and Musk are saving humanity for us.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @10:18PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @10:18PM (#1144886)

        SpaceX does receive government R&D subsidies. It also consistently delivers the services those subsidies were meant to pay for:
        -Falcon 9 has long since paid for itself with CRS, and Crew Dragon means that NASA is no longer dependant on Russia for manned launches.
        -Starlink is already providing rural areas with high speed internet service, which the government has been paying the telcos billions per year for thirty years with nothing to show for it.
        -Moonship is an open question about who is subsidizing who since NASA and SpaceX are splitting the bill 50/50 and both stand to benefit: SpaceX gets $3B over three or four years, ~90% of which goes to Starship development, with the promise of future support contracts. NASA gets a fully mobile Moon base 1/4 the size (not including the rocket) of the ISS for only 1/30 the price and access to a supply chain that makes it practical to operate.

        Colonizing Mars will be an exercise in sustainability research because every part of such a colony must become fully sustainable if it is to survive long term. Everything must be solar powered since that is the only power available and everything must be recycled because they can't afford to waste anything. Whether or not the colony works out that is going to pay huge dividends here on Earth.

        The only Blue Origin subsidy that I'm aware of is the Cantwell amendment to fund an Apollo 11 reenactment. I can't think of any practical benefit from it.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @11:20PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @11:20PM (#1144901)

          > Whether or not the colony works out that is going to pay huge dividends here on Eart

          But we already have biro pens. What else?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14 2021, @01:48AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14 2021, @01:48AM (#1144924)

          So are you saying that the gov't can/will stop subsidizing and/or paying for rural internet now that Starlink is up?

          I'm not sure what "huge dividends" a Mars colony will pay here on Earth beyond shoveling money to the rocket people who will have to ship the supplies.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14 2021, @06:20AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14 2021, @06:20AM (#1144990)

          SpaceX is the best circus. Just keep the bread coming.

          FTFY

  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday June 13 2021, @07:27AM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 13 2021, @07:27AM (#1144764) Homepage Journal
    --
    Don’t confuse the news with the truth.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by esperto123 on Sunday June 13 2021, @11:54AM (1 child)

    by esperto123 (4303) on Sunday June 13 2021, @11:54AM (#1144785)

    Whomever bought the ticket is not paying to fly, is paying to have access to Bezos for several hours or even days, to take pictures and videos together with him all over the news and etc. the flight is just a side event, this is pretty much like those benefit dinners for the uber rich that on paper is for donating money to charity but in practice is for network building.

  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @02:01PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @02:01PM (#1144799)

    challenger
    columbia
    blue origin?

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @10:23PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @10:23PM (#1144888)

      Not funny. The one thing I can say in Blue Origin's favour is that New Shepard has proven to be a very reliable sounding rocket.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14 2021, @02:52PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14 2021, @02:52PM (#1145076)

        I think many people don't appreciate the difference between sub-orbital and orbital flights. Comparing Blue Origin to something like SpaceX is effectively like comparing Go-Kart racing to F1 Grand Prix racing.

        To get into orbit, height does not matter*. You could go a million miles above the surface of the Earth and you'd still fall right back down. That would still be called a sub-orbital flight even though you'd be far higher than many objects in orbit. The way you get into orbit is by going around an object at a rate faster than that which you are falling down towards it. Imagine you could throw a ball fast enough such that it's altitude decline caused by gravity would be less than its vertical increased caused by the curvature of the Earth.

        * - The reason that height does matter is because when you have an atmosphere, it will slow you down. So in our little analog, if you could throw a ball that fast - it'd probably just burn up as it crushed into the atmosphere at ground level. And so you need to be at a sufficient height to "escape" Earth's atmosphere. I say "escape" because even the ISS is bumping into Earth's atmosphere, but the effect is small enough that an occasional 'bump' will maintain your orbit just fine. This is the same reason satellites also have thrusters on them - they are still running into some atmosphere and gradually falling to Earth, but a little bump now and again keeps them up there just fine.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by John Bresnahan on Sunday June 13 2021, @02:51PM (4 children)

    by John Bresnahan (5989) on Sunday June 13 2021, @02:51PM (#1144806)

    Back in the 1990s, you could spend a whole week on the International Space Station for $20m.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_tourism#Successful_projects_2 [wikipedia.org]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @07:30PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @07:30PM (#1144859)

      Masturbating mice to pass time.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @10:41PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13 2021, @10:41PM (#1144890)

      MirCorp started looking in the 1990's but the flight itself didn't happen until 2001. $20 million in 2001 is worth $30.2 in 2021. Axiom reportedly charges $55 million for 10 days, which works out to 45% more per day adjusted for inflation.

      • (Score: 1) by John Bresnahan on Monday June 14 2021, @11:47AM (1 child)

        by John Bresnahan (5989) on Monday June 14 2021, @11:47AM (#1145039)

        I wasn't trying to compare the cost of the same trip in 2000 vs 2021. I was comparing the cost of a week in orbit on the ISS vs the cost of a few minutes of freefall in an overblown cannon shell. If I had the money to take a ride with Bezos, I thinkk I would keep saving so as to afford a real space flight.

        • (Score: 2) by Socrastotle on Monday June 14 2021, @03:02PM

          by Socrastotle (13446) on Monday June 14 2021, @03:02PM (#1145080) Journal

          He's paying for posterity.

          Whoever made the winning bid will now go down in history as the first passenger on a private commercial sub-orbital space flight. You may never have heard of Abram C. Pheil [space.com] but his name is, nonetheless, now immortal. He was the first commercial airplane passenger - a 23 minute flight in a 2-seater across a bay in Florida for about $11,000 inflation adjusted - though that inflation adjusted figure is misleadingly small. Comparing prices inflation adjusted over a century is bordering on meaningless. For instance that $400 he paid (in dollars of the time) was equal to years of labor for many workers of the time.

          There's probably also the Bezos time, but I think posterity is the main factor. Buffet auctions a lunch with himself each year for charity and the highest price paid (from this year) was about $4.5 million.

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