Blue Origin auctioning off seat on New Shepard rocket to support its STEM nonprofit

Winning bid will go toward Club for the Future

FILE - This Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017 photo provided by Blue Origin shows the New Shepard Crew Capsule 2.0 after landing in west Texas during a test. Named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard, the spacecraft made a 10-minute suborbital flight. An instrumented test dummy was aboard, named Mannequin Skywalker. (Blue Origin via AP)
FILE - This Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017 photo provided by Blue Origin shows the New Shepard Crew Capsule 2.0 after landing in west Texas during a test. Named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard, the spacecraft made a 10-minute suborbital flight. An instrumented test dummy was aboard, named Mannequin Skywalker. (Blue Origin via AP) (Blue Origin)

Jeff Bezos and his company Blue Origin are ready to fly humans onboard its New Shepard suborbital rocket but for a big price tag.

Blue Origin opened an online auction Tuesday to bid for one seat on board the capsule for a 10-minute flight to the edge of space.

The company announced it’s ready to fly customers after 15 successful launches and landings from Texas with the New Shepard rocket and the astronaut capsule.

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“On this day 60 years ago, Alan Shepard made history by becoming the first American to fly to space,” Blue Origin wrote in a news release. “In the decades since, fewer than 600 astronauts have been to space above the Kármán Line to see the borderless Earth and the thin limb of our atmosphere. They all say this experience changes them.”

The winning bid amount will help fund Blue Origin’s nonprofit Club for the Future, a foundation providing science, technology, engineering and math education materials and allowing children to send postcards in the spacecraft.

The bidding war has three phases, according to a news release.

Between May 5 and 12, anyone can privately bid any amount on the website at BlueOrigin.com. Then on May 19, the company will unseal the bidding and everyone will be able to see the dollar amounts and who is bidding. Finally, on June 12 the bidding process concludes with a live online auction.

There is no price cap on the auction but to bid more than $50,000 users must verify their funds by providing a $10,000 deposit.

The winning bidder will secure a seat inside New Shepard’s capsule for a July 20 flight from the company’s Texas launch site. The date marks the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

According to the terms and conditions for the auction, to be eligible you must be at least 18, over 5 feet tall and weigh between 110 and 223 pounds. Other physical requirements also include being able to fasten your seatbelt in under 15 seconds.

“Which is about as difficult as fastening the seat-belt in an unfamiliar car in the dark,” according to the rules.

New Shepard riders will experience up to 3 Gs during launch and up to 5.5 Gs during descent.

The winning bidder will have two days to respond once they are notified to set up their flight or provide the name of the person who will fly in their place.

During the most recent flight, Blue Origin personnel stood in for paying customers through some countdown milestones in a dress rehearsal signifying the company was nearing human flight.

When the company starts flying paying customers, they will arrive at the facility in Texas three days before their flight where they will live in the astronaut village not far from Launch Complex 1 and train for their flight, according to Blue Origin Astronaut and New Glenn Sales Director Ariane Cornell.

A Blue Origin employee will be embedded with the commercial astronauts overseeing their training and events leading up to launch in a position known as CrewMember 7.


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