US-based Blue Origin is an aerospace company that focuses on lowering the cost of spaceflight and helping to explore the solar system. It was founded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos with the vision of enabling a future where millions of people are living and working in space to benefit Earth.
Blue Origin believes that to preserve Earth, humanity will need to expand, explore, find new energy and material resources, and move industries that stress Earth into space. And hence the company is working towards developing partially and fully reusable launch vehicles that are safe, low cost, and serve the needs of all civil, commercial, and defense customers.
New Shepard seat sells for millions
In a recent development, Blue Origin ended the online auction for the very first seat on New Shepard (rocket) with a winning bid of $28M. About 7,600 people registered to bid from 159 countries. You can replay the live auction broadcast here.
New Shepard is named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space. It is a reusable suborbital rocket system designed to take astronauts and research payloads past the Kármán line – the internationally recognised boundary of space.
The name of the auction winner will be announced in the weeks following the auction’s conclusion. After which, the fourth and final crew member will be announced. The winner will fly to space on New Shepard’s first human flight on July 20th, and will be joined by Jeff Bezos, and his brother, Mark Bezos.
As for the winning bid amount, it will be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, whose mission is to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and to help invent the future of life in space.
In the honor of Alan Shepard and John Glenn
The company reports that, on this day (the 14th), 60 years ago, Alan Shepard made history by becoming the first American to fly to space. And in the decades since, fewer than 600 astronauts have been to space above the Kármán Line to see the borderless Earth and the thin limb of the atmosphere.
Blue Origin named its launch vehicle after Alan Shepard to honor his historic flight. New Shepard has flown 15 successful consecutive missions to space and back above the Kármán Line through a flight program to test its multiple redundant safety systems. Now, it’s time for astronauts to climb onboard.
Named after pioneering astronaut John Glenn, New Glenn is a single configuration heavy-lift launch vehicle capable of carrying people and payloads routinely to Earth orbit and beyond. Featuring a reusable first stage built for 25 missions, New Glenn will build a road to space.
John Herschel Glenn Jr. was a former NASA astronaut and U.S. Senator. According to NASA, “In 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. He named his spacecraft “Friendship 7.” He made three orbits around Earth. He spent about five hours in space. His mission showed that the Mercury spacecraft worked in space. The mission also helped NASA learn more about being in space.” He was also the oldest person to fly in space.
About New Shepard
Blue Origin has been flight testing New Shepard and its redundant safety systems since 2012. The program has had 15 successful consecutive missions including three successful escape tests, showing the crew escape system can activate safely in any phase of flight.
With room for six astronauts, the spacious and pressurised crew capsule is environmentally-controlled for comfort and ‘every passenger gets their own window seat’. The vehicle is fully autonomous. Every person onboard is a passenger and there are no pilots. The BE-2 (Blue Engine 3) propels the rocket to space and restarts for a controlled pinpoint landing on the pad. The throttleable engine slows the booster down in just 8 km/h (5mph) for landing.