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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


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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) Journal
  • (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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