Someone was very eager to join Jeff and Mark Bezos aboard Blue Origin's first tourist flight on July 20th, it seems. The private spaceflight firm has sold a seat aboard New Shepherd's first human spaceflight for a whopping $28 million through an auction. Blue Origin isn't naming the winner until sometime in the weeks ahead, but noted that almost 7,600 people worldwide registered for the bidding process.
All of the donation amount will go to Blue Origin's STEM-supporting Club for the Future fund.
There was little doubt the seat would fetch a high price given both the chance to fly into space on a reasonably firm date with one of the world's most influential tech executives. There are no vague timeframes or reams of additional tests.
However, the auction and the launch itself also represent a symbolic win for Blue Origin. As behind as the company has been on human spaceflight, it's beating both SpaceX and Virgin Galactic on space tourism — those rivals won't fly tourists until 2022 at the earliest. The question, of course, is whether or not Blue Origin can regularly fly paying passengers after this first trip is over. That consistency may be a considerably greater challenge.