For the first flight, Blue Origin auctioned one of the seats, with the proceeds going to Mr Bezos’ space-based nonprofit, Club for the Future. The bid was $ 28 million, an amount that stunned even Blue Origin officials, far higher than they had hoped. Blue Origin announced that it will distribute $ 19 million of this to 19 space-related organizations – $ 1 million each.
The 7,600 people who attended the auction provided Blue Origin with a list of potential paying customers, and the company has started selling tickets for subsequent flights.
Blue Origin has refused to provide the price or number of signups, but company officials say there is strong demand.
“Our early flights are being offered at a very good price,” said Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith during a press conference on Sunday.
During the on-flight seat auction on Tuesday, the company said auction participants could buy a seat on subsequent flights. It did not publicly state what it charged bidders or how many seats were 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 robust pipeline of interested customers,” she said.
Virgin Galactic, the other company that offers suborbital flights, has around 600 people who have already purchased tickets. The price was originally $ 200,000 and was later raised to $ 250,000, but Virgin Galactic ceased sales in 2014 after its first spaceplane crashed during a test flight. Virgin Galactic officials say they will resume sales later this year and the price is likely to be over $ 250,000.