Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Blue Origin sells first tourist seat on New Shepard for $28 million

Capitalism in space: In a live auction today, Blue Origin successfully sold the first tourist seat on the first manned commercial suborbital flight of its New Shepard spacecraft for $28 million. With the additional fee of 6%, the total price was about $29.6 million.

I have embedded the replay of the auction below the fold, cued up to the auction start.

The bidding was amazingly fierce and aggressive, starting at $4.8 million. The final price is quite spectacular, actually $9+ million higher than what Dennis Tito paid to fly to ISS for several days back in the 1990s.

One wonders what SpaceX and Axiom have been charging for their orbital flights. I doubt it is this much. As I watched I wondered if the bidders were considering the time they would spend with Jeff Bezos as part of the value. These are wealthy people, and getting a chance to spend a lot of time with one of the richest men in the world might be far more valuable to them than the flight itself.

Regardless, we will know soon who won the auction, and will fly into space for a few minues or so on July 20th.


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  • I wouldn’t doubt the persons initials are BZ.

  • mkent

    One wonders what…Axiom have been charging for their orbital flights. I doubt it is this much.

    $55 million per seat, IIRC.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Seems to confirm the idea that there are actually people with lots more money than common sense.

    But, I bet Richard Branson is kicking himself for setting the price at $250K

    Say, I own a bridge in NYC that I would be happy to sell you for a quarter of that $28 million.

  • Trent Castanaveras: The speculation in that article is based entirely on what SpaceX charges NASA per seat, $55 million. I have great doubts SpaceX and Axiom are charging private customers that much. Nor would I be surprised if the price for private customers is as much as half that.

    Consider: The price for a reused Falcon 9 has been estimated to be less than $50 million these days. Put four customers on it and the price for each could easily be $25 million each and SpaceX still makes a profit.

  • Trent Castanaveras

    I agree with that assessment, Mr. Z.

    However, articles like that are where the quoted $55 million speculative figure comes from, without any direct evidence to support the claim. There a several such articles; I linked to the most recent found with DuckDuckGo.

  • Trent Castanaveras: Yeah, that was my sense too. There is as yet no published story that provides a confirmed price for these commercial orbital flights.

  • Mitch S.

    I also wondered how much the value shot up when Bezos announced he was going.

    “I wouldn’t doubt the persons initials are BZ.”
    Hmm, got that kind of “scratch” Bob? If he did I expect he would save it for an orbital flight with SpaceX/Axiom.
    My cynical side wonders if the bidder was Richard Branson so he can definitely keep his promise of being on the first commercial suborbital flight!

  • pzatchok

    I wonder if the buyer/bidder is a large investor in BO?

    28 million to help prove the company is viable and profitable might be small change if it bumps the stock price up and the investor gets a better chance to sell out at a higher price.

  • pzatchok: Uh, Blue Origin is not a publicly held company. It is owned entirely by Jeff Bezos, by himself.

  • mkent

    Your source?

    The Associated Press, Vos Iz Neias, and numerous space reporters about the time of the announcement.

    This jives with the Bigelow deal with SpaceX for $52 million per ticket and with the Space Adventures tickets being $35 million each. There are four tourists on the Space Adventures flight but only three on the Axiom flights, as the fourth astronaut on the Axiom flights is an Axiom employee. So the Space Adventures flights would cost $140 million each and the Axiom flights $165 million each. Considering the difference in training and the extra fees NASA charges to go to the space station, the difference in flight costs makes sense.

  • mkent

    Another thing I found interesting is that there were 20 bidders in this auction, even though the bid price was already $4.8 million before the auction began. That means there were 20 people willing to spend $5 million to fly on a suborbital spaceflight. I think it demonstrates that the demand is there for this type of flight.

  • The value is largely in the publicity bought. Whoever won will have their name plastered all over the news. They will be interviewed by numerous press outlets before and after. We all will know about that person. Becoming sort of a household name, they will be more effective in getting paid for speaking engagements and companies will like to have their own companies highlighted by having that individual serve on their boards or such.

    But only that first ticket will get so much publicity and hence be worth so much. The 10th or 20th customer will have far less publicity and will probably be paying a far, far lower ticket price.

  • pawn

    I don’t doubt that Jeff has invited Elon along for a ride.

  • wayne

    Interesting development, didn’t see that coming.
    $28 million definitely says some-thing. And/but… I think we should remember it was a charity auction and the proceeds go to the “Blue Origin Club for the Future.”

    as a side note:
    “Donors who purchase items at a charity auction may claim a charitable contribution deduction for the excess of the purchase price paid for an item over its fair market value. The donor must be able to show, however, that he or she knew that the value of the item was less than the amount paid.”
    –> that would be an interesting audit.

    Ref: SpaceX and Falcon 9:
    Do we have any good idea (or any reasonable estimate) what SpaceX’s marginal-cost actually is, for flying a Falcon 9?

  • Alton

    Over a year ago, I saw an interview with Musk where he was asked what the cost structure of his Falcon flights were and he referenced an article that says rebuild costs at $10 + million, with total launch costs on a fully refuribed lunch at $50 million. Developmental and new built costs — not included. Order of Magnatude???

  • wayne

    thanks for that factoid.
    Does anyone know the {USA IRS]depreciation-rate for ‘rockets?’

  • Edward

    Robert Zimmerman wrote about the speculation on Dragon tourism flights: “Consider: The price for a reused Falcon 9 has been estimated to be less than $50 million these days. Put four customers on it and the price for each could easily be $25 million each and SpaceX still makes a profit.

    Also consider that NASA ties up a Dragon for six months, but these tourism flights are for a few days, giving better turnaround time for each capsule/spacecraft. Depending upon turnaround time, a Dragon for NASA can do fewer than two complete flights per year, but a Dragon reserved for tourists could possibly perform several flights per year.

    These initial flights may be closer to the NASA price than the eventual price for more routine flights. These companies still have yet to learn the practical lessons of flying tourists to space, such as how little training is still enough for tourists. Even NanoRacks had some interesting (in the curse sense) lessons for flying experiments to ISS.

    We have seen that the early tourist flights are very valuable to those who can afford it, but I expect the Dragon price tag to drop over the next couple of years. SpaceX’s goal is for affordable access to space rather than all the traffic will bear.

  • Col Beausabre

    1- Let’s get the Kickstarter campaign going to put Bob in space ! If we’re lucky, he’ll be seated next to Branson

    2 – Still wondering if the FAA is going to ignore its own rules about flights for hire on experimental aircraft or if they are going to to do a last minute commercial certification. The FAA may be able to play fast and loose for a while, but wait til the first launch (by anybody) of an uncertified vehicle that crashes and burns with paying passengers on board. (Lawyers slavering at the prospect of suing everyone in sight) As always, the demand will go up that “somebody ought to do do something !” beginning with FAA director’s head on a pike staff

  • wayne

    “Someone Paid $28 million To Fly To Space With Jeff Bezos….”
    Scott Manley June 12, 2021

  • Kyle

    How many dedicated ground operations personnel have to be on the payroll while a Dragon is hibernating on ISS? These people are not cheap.

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