The live auction aspect of catching a ride into space with Jeff Bezos on Blue Origin’s New Shepard booster rocket went down Saturday, and we now know just how badly someone wants to tag along.
Within four minutes after the live phone auction opened, bids had skyrocketed past $20 million. It took all of seven minutes to get a winner, an unidentified person who will pay $28 million.
Is it Richard Branson? Not sure, but whoever it is will be along for the roughly 11 minute ride into space on July 20.
The Blue Origin trip will essentially take the passengers straight up and then straight down. They will travel a little more than 62 miles above earth, which is the area that is known to be the edge of outer space.
The trip Bezos and company are going on is what’s called a suborbital flight, and it is much different than an orbital flight. The speed a rocket on an orbital flight needs to hit is roughly 17,000 miles per hour. That’s what’s called “orbital velocity,” and is what provided the spacecraft with enough energy to continue to go around the earth, instead of being bulled back down to the earth’s surface by gravity.
The suborbital flights don’t require that type of power and speed, and the New Shepard suborbital flight should hit about 2,300 miles per hour, which is three times the speed of sound.
It will fly straight up until it has burned almost all of its fuel. Then the capsule carrying the passengers will separate from the rocket, and for a brief time continue upward, which will give the passengers that brief time of weightlessness. They will unstrap their seat belts, float around as they view earth from space, than buckle back up for the trip down.
The capsule will deploy parachutes to slow it’s descent to earth, where it will be traveling under 20 miles per hour when it lands in the West Texas desert.
This first flight into space is expected to launch a space tourism business that is estimated to hit $3 billion by 2030.