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Bidding for ticket on first New Shepard manned suborbital flight reaches $2.8 million

Capitalism in space: The first phase in Blue Origin’s auction for the purchase of the first seat on its New Shepard suborbital spacecraft in July has closed, with the high bid now $2.8 million.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture has begun unsealing the bids for an open seat on its New Shepard suborbital spaceship, and the high bid hit the $2.8 million mark with more than three weeks to go in the online auction.

Blue Origin says the auction has drawn out more than 5,200 bidders from 136 countries. … Bidding started on May 5 and will conclude with a live auction on June 12. Proceeds from the sale will be donated to Blue Origin’s educational foundation, the Club for the Future.

The first phrase involved sealed secret bids, and ended with the high bid at $1.4 million. The second phase, on-going now with bidding quite brisk, makes the high bid visible to all bidders.

The $2.8 million bid is far higher than the estimated price point predicted for this suborbital flight, which had been in the range of several hundred thousand dollars. The high price is likely because this will be the first flight, and people with cash are willing to spend it to get bragging rights to that seat. At the same time, the high bidding suggests that the previous estimated ticket price might have been low, at least for the first flights.

With three weeks left before the final live auction on June 12th, there is a chance the winning bid could get even higher.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

 
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
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7 comments

  • Edward

    Robert wrote: “The high price is likely because this will be the first flight, and people with cash are willing to spend it to get bragging rights to that seat. At the same time, the high bidding suggests that the previous estimated ticket price might have been low, at least for the first flights.

    I’m surprised that they only received 5200 bids. However, it still gives them a large enough customer base to keep them in business, and could conceivably eventually repay the development cost, but I suspect that Blue Origin’s primary benefit of having New Shepard is the rocketry experience and operations experience that they gained over the past 20 years.

    What disappoints me most is that five years ago they had their basic new features demonstrated, and took another five years to sort out how to do the same as NASA has been doing for 60 years. Reusability and a six-person capsule are the new features, but passenger safety should not have taken five years to figure out.

  • Star Bird

    I would like to see Obama and Clinton sent to live on one of the Moons of Mars

  • wayne

    Star Bird–
    I vote for Gitmo.

    Edward-
    vaguely been following this.
    Q: sealed-bidding is entirely different from a public-auction. Why are they doing this, this way?

  • Edward

    wayne asked: “sealed-bidding is entirely different from a public-auction. Why are they doing this, this way?

    I can’t say with authority, but sealed bidding has a tendency to evoke bids that each bidder believes is the value (at least to him) of the item on auction. My thinking is that Blue Origin did sealed bids in order to find what those interested in a ride think the ride is worth to them. Blue Origin could use this information when deciding upon a price for the general public, keeping in mind that the second flight is less valuable than the first. With Virgin Galactic not yet operational, there is not yet much competition for this service, so it may bring a larger than expected price (perhaps greater than the $250 thousand Virgin has suggested it will charge).

    The current open bidding allows for those who are most interested in being on the first flight to bid aggressively against each other. If the current high bid is higher than anyone else is willing to pay then this could be a rather boring part of the auction. Otherwise, there could be interesting bids as people try harder for that first public seat and the bragging rights, as Robert called it, that come with it. It seems that the bid has already doubled. Yowza!

    I haven’t been involved with a lot of auctions, so I don’t really know the strategies well. Combining bidding processes like this seems unusual to me, because sealed bidding could get those who are most interested to bid higher than they might otherwise bid, and public bidding might keep the action going. The final live bidding should get people to become emotional and bid higher than they otherwise would. Combining the three methods in this way made the sealed bids obsolete even as they were bid, which is why I think that Blue Origin is trying to find the price they could charge for the next few years, until Virgin Galactic works through its backlog of customers.

    Of course, another competitor could be SpaceX, if they choose to start point-to-point passenger service around the globe. Ride a Starship from New York to Tokyo (or Boca Chica, TX, to Hanalei, Kauai, Hawai’i (say “hi” to Puff the Magic Dragon, for me)) and return by passenger jet.

  • mkent

    I’m surprised that they only received 5200 bids.

    In order to bid more than $50,000, you had to be a verified bidder. That required providing identification, having a phone call with the auction house, and submitting a refundable $10,000 deposit.

  • Edward

    mkent,
    Do we know, yet, how many of the 5,200 bids were over $50,000?

  • Col Beausabre

    From the news on Monday June 7.

    “Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, has announced that he and his brother Mark Bezos will be joining the auction winner on New Shepard’s first human flight next month.”

    So do we have a three-way race between SpaceX, BO and VG here?

    What are the odds and where can I place my bets?

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