A ticket to take a short trip to space next month with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has sold at auction for $28 million.
The bidding process, which began in early May, attracted offers from more than 7,000 participants from 159 countries, Blue Origin said. The price stood at $4.8 million ahead of Saturday’s live auction, which was streamed online.
The identity of the winning bidder has not yet been made public, but will be revealed in the coming weeks, according to Blue Origin.
Whoever it is, he is traveling with three other passengers, including Bezos and his younger brother, Mark. The “fourth and final” passenger will be announced shortly, the company said.
At approximately 10 minutes from launch to landing, of which about three will be spent in zero gravity, the journey will cost the winning bidder more than $9 million per minute spent in space.
The winning bid amount will be donated to Club for the Future, Blue Origin’s foundation focused on STEM education programs.
It is scheduled to launch in Texas on July 20, 15 days after Bezos will step down as Amazon CEO.
A company spokesperson declined to comment on whether the timing of Bezos’ transition to executive chairmanship was related to his desire to make the trip, which will be the company’s first to include human passengers.
“Since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space,” Bezos said in an Instagram post last week.
“On July 20 I will make that trip with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”
To date, 15 test flights with the New Shepard capsule have been conducted. All have been successful with the exception of the first, in April 2015, when the missile made an emergency landing, although the capsule returned safely to Earth.
If successful, the New Shepard capsule journey would be the first commercial spaceflight to take a citizen beyond the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized edge of space, more than 60 miles above Earth.
However, Blue Origin’s schedule has reportedly prompted a rush by Virgin Galactic, the rival space tourism company founded by Sir Richard Branson, to pursue its plans.
“Check out this space…,” the businessman wrote in a recent tweet. The company held a successful test last month.
Blue Origin, which has so far been funded entirely with funds raised by Bezos who sold its Amazon shares, has not disclosed details on pricing for future trips, but said the “most competitive” bidders will be approached for interest in upcoming flights.