Someone is willing to part with almost $30 million for a ticket to go into space alongside billionaire Jeff Bezos. The auction for the spare seat on the Blue Origin’s maiden voyage next month ended Saturday. Bidding started at $4.9 million, quickly rose to $10 million and then four people battled it out to the very end to reach $28 million. There is a 6 percent commission to the total, so the winning bidder will pay $29.7 million. The flight is expected to take 11 minutes, meaning it comes out to $2.7 million per minute. And only a few of those will be weightless. The money will go to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, that seeks to encourage young people to take up an interest in space and science.
The identity of the winning bidder will be revealed in the next couple of weeks. Bezos will join the first Blue Origin passenger flight that is set to take off on July 20. He will take his younger brother, Mark, along in the capsule that can hold as many as six passengers. The autonomous capsule doesn’t have a pilot. Although the winning bidder will only have a couple of weeks to get ready, the company has said there won’t be much training required to join the flight. Plus there won’t be any kind of medical checkup needed beyond some physical requirements, such as being able to run to the top of the launch tower—around seven flights of stairs—in 90 seconds and fit into a spacesuit.
Over the past six years, Blue Origin has conducted a total of 15 successful launches without any crew. And the July 20 launch with passengers comes amid a bit of a space race among billionaires to launch the era of space tourism. There are rumors that Richard Branson, who founded Virgin Atlantic and is also deep in the space race, may try to one-up Bezos by joining a test flight to space over the July 4 weekend. Virgin Galactic has already sold around 600 tickets for between $200,000 and $250,000 each.