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A mystery bidder paid $28 million at auction yesterday for a seat alongside Jeff Bezos on board the first crewed spaceflight of the billionaire’s company Blue Origin scheduled to take off next month.
The Amazon founder revealed this week that both he and his brother Mark would take seats on board the company’s New Shepard launch vehicle on July 20, to fly to the edge of space and back.
The Bezos brothers will be joined by the winner of Saturday’s charity auction, whose identity remains unknown, and by a fourth, as yet unnamed space tourist.
‘The name of the auction winner will be released in the weeks following the auction’s conclusion,’ tweeted Blue Origin following the sale.
‘Then, the fourth and final crew member will be announced — stay tuned.’
Saturday’s successful bidder outclassed some 20 rivals in an auction launched on May 19 and wrapped up with a 10-minute, live cast frenzy.
Bidding had reached $4.8 million by Thursday, but shot up spectacularly in the final live auction, rising by million dollar increments.
Taking off from a desert in western Texas, the New Shepard trip will last 10 minutes, four of which passengers will spend above the Karman line that marks the recognized boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.
After lift-off, the capsule separates from its booster, then spends four minutes at an altitude exceeding 60 miles (100 kilometers), during which time those onboard experience weightlessness and can observe the curvature of Earth.
Bezos, who announced earlier this year he is stepping down as Amazon’s chief executive to spend more time on other projects including Blue Origin, has said it was a lifelong dream to fly into space.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard has successfully carried out more than a dozen uncrewed test runs from its facility in Texas’ Guadalupe Mountains.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK