Jeff Bezos’ space venture Blue Origin on Wednesday announced the date that it will fly its first crew of astronauts into space.
On July 20, the spacecraft named Blue Shepherd will take flight into space, carrying not only astronauts, but also whoever becomes the highest bidder of an online auction for one coveted seat on the flight.
Any individual is able to bid any amount they want on the seat, according to the company, and no bids will not be visible until May 19. Once they are, participants must bid out their competitors for the seat. The bidding will conclude with a live online auction on June 12.
The money will be donated to "inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and help invent the future of life in space" via Blue Origin’s foundation, the company said.
The competition among private companies in the space industry is heating up as the government promotes missions to return the moon and land on Mars.
Blue Origin recently lost a $2.9 billion NASA contract to build the lunar landing craft that will return astronauts to the moon for the first time in decades. That award was instead given to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which offered up its reusable Starship spacecraft for the mission.
NASA executives said their goal was to land Americans on the moon "as quickly and safely as possible."
Bezos’ company protested the award, as first reported by The New York Times, to which Musk teased that Bezos couldn’t "get it up (to orbit)."
That mission is expected to advance NASA toward its goal of landing astronauts on Mars.