Blue Origin has its winning bidder for its first-ever human spaceflight, and the winner will pay $28 million for the privilege of flying aboard the company’s debut private astronaut mission. The winning bid came in today during a live auction, which saw 7,600 registered bidders from 159 countries compete for the spot.
This was the culmination of Blue Origin’s three-part bidding process for the ticket, which included a blind auction first, followed by an open, asynchronous auction with the highest bid posted to its website whenever it changed. This last live auction considerably ramped up the winning bid’s value, which was at just under $5 million before the event.
This first seat up for sale went for a lot more than what an actual, commercial spot is likely to cost on Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule, which flies to suborbital space and only spends a few minutes there before returning to Earth. Estimates put the cost of a typical launch at someone under $1 million, likely closer to $500,000 or so. But this is the first, which is obviously a unique distinction. It’s also a trip that will allow the winning bidder to pretty much literally rub elbows with Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, who is going to be on the flight as well, along with his brother Mark, and a fourth passenger that Blue Origin says it will be announced sometime in the coming “weeks,” ahead of the July 20 target flight date.
As for who won the auction, we’ll also have to wait to find that out since the winner’s identity will be “released in the weeks following” at the end of today’s live bidding. And in case you thought that $28 million might represent a big revenue windfall for Blue Origin, which has spent years developing its human spaceflight capability, think again: The company is donating it to its Club for the Future non-profit foundation, which is focused on encouraging kids to pursue careers in STEM in a long-term bid to help Bezos’ larger goals of making humanity a spacefaring civilization. You can re-watch the entire live bidding portion of the auction via the stream below.