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Bids to ride on Blue Origin's first crewed space launch rocket past $2 million

New Shepard is set to carry passengers for the first time July 20, including one wealthy auction winner.

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A test launch of the New Shepard rocket.

Blue Origin

After two weeks of sealed, online bidding out of public view, bids for a seat on the maiden crewed flight of Blue Origin's New Shepard are now out in the open.

On Wednesday morning, the space company founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos revealed that the highest sealed bid received was $1.4 million. Within a few hours of public bidding, the price had shot up to $2.6 billion and there are still a few weeks for that amount to go even higher until bidding ends with a live online auction on June 12.

Blue Origin's website discloses the current high bid, but does not identify the bidder. The company has not yet revealed what regular pricing will be for a seat on New Shepard in the future. It's likely collecting some very valuable market data from this auction process.

Whatever the eventual highest bid is, the amount will be donated to Blue Origin's educational nonprofit, Club for the Future, which aims "to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and help invent the future of life in space," according to a statement from a company spokesperson.

Blue Origin is currently targeting July 20 for its first launch of New Shepard with humans aboard, including the auction winner. New Shepard seats six, but it's now clear how many of those seats will be occupied on the flight or if Bezos will be one of the passengers.

New Shepard is a suborbital rocket, meaning the trip to space will be brief. The journey will begin with blast-off from the company's launch facility in West Texas, and after an initial boost, the crew capsule will separate from New Shepard and continue on past the Karman Line, which is considered the edge of space at about 62 miles (100 kilometers) of altitude. 

Passengers will enjoy a few minutes of weightlessness and epic views before returning back to Earth for a parachute-assisted soft landing not far from the launch pad. The entire experience from launch to landing will last about 10 to 15 minutes. At $2.6 million, that's over $200,000 per minute of flight time.

That's a mighty expensive way to get some epic shots for the 'gram.

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