For the past month, Blue Origin has been auctioning off a ride to space. Previously billed as just an open “seat” on a “crewed trip.” Now, Jeff Bezos has slipped a little detail in the mix: he and his brother Mark will be coming. You would have thought they would have mentioned that earlier? Would have been nice. The highest bid currently stands at $US2.8 ($4) million, which Blue Origin says will go to its foundation to promote STEM education.
Jeff made a professional video for Instagram and the occasion, proof that an unpaid companion will join him in space.
“I really want you to come with me,” he says, in a cowboy hat with his sibling at what appears to be a vacant beer hall. “Would you?”
“Are you serious?” a man who resembles Jeff Bezos, in a ball cap, asks.
“I am. I think it would be meaningful. To have my brother there.”
The auction winner can observe — and maybe engage — in this casual, friendly dynamic throughout the trip.
“I wasn’t even expecting him to say that he was going to be on the first flight,” America’s next top spaceman, Mark, then says in the confessional portion.
For more of a sense of how Jeff Bezos normally interacts with strangers, you can view his surprise warehouse and Whole Foods tours.
On its first crewed flight, Blue Origin’s craft, the New Shepard, will briefly sail to a suborbital height and then return. SpaceX’s own first commercial flight, the subject of equal fascination and coverage, should reach orbit at some point later this year. Elon Musk’s company has launched three crewed missions for NASA, the latest of which docked at the International Space Station.
Blue Origin has been lobbying so that it can get billions of dollars in grant funding from NASA, too. “What is Elon Musk afraid of … a little competition?” Blue Origin’s letter to lawmakers asks.
Blue Origin sent a press release following the Instagram post. The New Shepard is expected to launch on July 20th.