For the first flight, Blue Origin auctioned off one of the seats going to Mr. Bezos’ space-focused nonprofit, Club for the Future. The winning bid was $28 million, an amount that stunned even Blue Origin executives, far more than they expected. Blue Origin announced that it will distribute $19 million of that to 19 space-related organizations — $1 million each.
The 7,600 people who participated in the auction provided Blue Origin with a list of potential paying customers, and the company has begun selling tickets for subsequent flights.
Blue Origin declined to say what the price is or how many people signed up, but company representatives say there’s strong demand.
“Our initial flights are going at a very good price,” Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said during a news conference on Sunday.
During the seat auction on Tuesday’s flight, the company said that participants in the auction can buy seats on subsequent flights. It has not publicly stated what bidders have been charged, or how many seats have been sold.
Ariane Cornell, director of astronaut and orbital sales at Blue Origin, said two additional flights are planned for this year. “So we’ve already built a strong pipeline of interested customers,” she said.
Virgin Galactic, the second company to offer suborbital flights, has about 600 people who have already purchased tickets. The price was originally $200,000 and was later raised to $250,000, but Virgin Galactic discontinued the sale in 2014 after its first space plane crashed during a test flight. Virgin Galactic executives say they will resume sales later this year, and the price is likely to exceed $250,000.