The winner’s name will be revealed a few days before the flight that will depart West Texas on July 20 and will arrive in the same area, on the occasion of the 52nd anniversary of the moon landing of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
It will be the first launch of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket with people aboard and kickstart the company’s space tourism business. Fifteen previous test flights of the rocket and since 2015 – short journeys lasting around 10 minutes – have been successful.
The auction launched by Blue Origin was lightning: only seven minutes. In the first 240 seconds, the price immediately jumped above 20 million dollars. “Seeing the Earth from space changes the relationship with the planet and with humanity,” Bezos said in a video before the final offers, announcing among other things that his brother Mark will be aboard the latest addition to Blue Origin. The funds raised will go to an association of charity, but Bezos’ company hopes the initiative will galvanize enthusiasm for the space tourism industry. New Shepard’s six-person voyage on board for Amazon patron is a major milestone, allowing him to burn on time in the space race rival Elon Musk.
SpaceX indeed transports astronauts to the International Space Station but has not yet started offering tourist travel. And the same goes for the Virgin Galactic di Richard Branson, who in any case will try to snatch Bezos of space supremacy: the British billionaire could participate in a space flight test over the weekend of July 4th. The challenge among billionaires for space makes analysts optimistic, increasingly convinced that the space tourism may become a reality in the next few years until reaching a multi-billion dollar turnover by 2030. For now, however, seeing the Earth from above remains a privilege for a few, indeed very few passionate scroungers.