After years of development and more than a handful of delays along the way, Blue Origin plans to attempt the first official flight of its New Shepard spacecraft on July 20th. The company will offer one seat to the highest bidder of an online auction that starts today. Until May 19th, anyone can visit Blue Origin's website and place a private bid. After that date, the company will unseal the bids, allowing all involved to see how much money is at play. The entire process will then culminate on June 12th with a live auction to determine the winner of the seat. The company will donate the money it raises to its STEM-focused foundation, Club for the Future.
Provided everything goes according to plan on July 20th, the company's autonomous New Shepard rocket will fly six passengers 62 miles (or just shy of 100km) above the surface of the Earth into suborbital space. Those on the flight won't get to circle the planet, but they will experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the Earth before they return to the ground. Notably, Jeff Bezos and company haven't said how much they plan to charge for New Shepard tickets once flights become a regular occurrence.
Blue Origin won't be the only rocket company flying civilian astronauts to space this year. As part of a charity flight for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, SpaceX's Crew Dragon craft will take four regular people to orbit later this year.