An American privately-funded aerospace company Blue Origin plans to conduct its first space tourism trip on its New Shepard spacecraft in July 2021. The company has opened bids for a single passenger’s seat on the flight.
According to the statement, released on May 5, 2021, Blue Origin aims to fly its first astronaut crew to space on July 20, 2021. The company offers to bid for a single seat its rocket capsule named as New Shepard and take off for its first space trip.
Blue Origin outlined that an online auction for the seat would take five weeks and the proceeds of the bidding would be donated to its foundation dedicated to inspiring future generations to pursue careers in the space industry.
“This seat will change how you see the world,” Jeff Bezos, the founder of Blue Origin, was quoted in the company’s announcement.
Once the first space tourism trip would be completed, the company would reportedly conduct a couple more flights to space until the end of 2021. According to the manufacturer, the 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 into suborbital space. It means that the passengers of the vehicle will be able to experience weightlessness as well as to spot the curvature of our planet before returning to Earth.
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.
Initially, the American company planned to conduct the first crewed New Shepard flight in 2019 but it was postponed to 2021.
The sealed online bidding for a seat in the New Shepard will run until May 19, 2021. Blue Origin plans to conclude the final bidding with a live online auction on June 12, 2021.