Jeff Bezos-backed Blue Origin revealed that the current highest bid for commercial space voyage is up at $2.8 million and climbing in the ongoing online auction.

Those wishing to join the crew in Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft have until June 10, 2021, before the second stage of bidding ends. The final phase of bidding will start on June 12, 2021, with a live online auction. The winning bid would go to Blue Origin’s foundation to promote science and technology driven careers.

On May 5, 2021, Blue Origin announced that it has opened bids for a single passenger’s seat on the flight. The company is targeting to fly its first astronaut crew to space on July 20, 2021. 

Once the first space tourism trip is completed, the company would reportedly conduct a few further flights to space during 2021. The spacecraft, called New Shepard, was designed as a commercial system for suborbital space tourism and is capable of carrying six passengers onboard more than 100 kilometers above Earth. Passengers will be able to experience weightlessness and witness the curvature of our planet before returning.

Blue Origin started prototype engine and capsule testing in 2006, while the full engine development began in 2010 and was completed in 2015. The vehicle was named after the first American astronaut in space, Alan Shepard, who was one of the NASA Mercury Seven astronauts having ascended to space on a suborbital trajectory. 

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Space tourism has become a fast-emerging market with a handful of competitors trying to make journeys to space an accessible reality.