Who is mystery bidder who paid $28M for a seat on Bezos' rocket?

Who is the mystery bidder who paid $28 million for a trip to space? Speculation grows after winner secures seat next to Jeff Bezos on his Blue Origin rocket

  • Wealthy winner, whose identity will be disclosed in the coming weeks, beat some 20 participants in an auction for the seat on Saturday
  • The person could be one of Bezos’ wealthy friends; he is known to be close to Barry Diller, Jamie Dimon and Scooter Braun
  • It also seems likely the winner has a passion for space travel
  • Billionaire ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt spent two years as a member of NASA’s National Space Council User Advisory Group  
  • Bezos, who is the world’s wealthiest man, is currently locked in a race against fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Elon Musk 

Speculation is growing as to the identity of the mystery bidder who paid $28million at auction for a seat onboard the first crewed spaceflight by Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin. 

The winner’s identity will be disclosed before the Blue Origin rocket – named New Shepard – blasts into space on July 20, but internet sleuths are already floating potential names.  

Given the staggering sum paid for the 11-minute flight, it seems likely the person is a billionaire and could be close friends with Bezos, who will be on board the New Shepard along with his brother, Mark. It’s also likely the winner has a passion for astronomy.  

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is one billionaire with an interest in space travel. 

Schmidt, 66, has a reported fortune of $21.4 billion. He was the CEO of Google from 2001 until 2011, before serving as executive chairman of the company from 2011 until 2018. 

Interestingly, Schmidt spent two years as a member of NASA’s National Space Council User Advisory Group, and is now the Chairman of the US National Security Commission for Artificial Intelligence. 

Speculation is growing as the identity of the mystery bidder who paid $28million at auction for a seat onboard the first crewed spaceflight by Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin. Bezos is seen in a Crew Capsule mockup at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs in 2017 

The July 20 launch of Blue Origin’s New Shepard booster from West Texas is a landmark moment as U.S. firms strive toward a new era of private commercial space travel. Pictured is one of the successful test flights 

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt  has extreme wealth and a longtime interest in space travel. Meanwhile, Scooter Braun is close friends with Bexos

However, it’s unclear whether he is friends with Bezos, and it may be more likely that the winner is close pals with the Amazon founder.  

It’s not impossible that Bezos’ pal, Scooter Braun, 39, bid on the coveted seat. 

The pair partied up a storm on board a boat in Italy back in the summer of 2019, and Braun – a powerhouse producer with a reported net worth of $400 million – has long gushed about Bezos. 

Back in 2017, he wrote on Twitter: ‘Always has been and always will be… Jeff Bezos is such an inspiration. Never ever doubt your goals. Awesome.’ 

But some of Bezos’ older and wealthier pals could possibly have edged out Braun in the bidding wars. 

Barry Diller, 79, has a fortune estimated at $3.1 billion and is said to be incredibly close friends with Bezos and his partner, Lauren Sanchez. 

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon also has ample cash to splash on the seat given his net worth of $1.9 billion. 

However, neither Diller or Dimon have publicly professed to an interest in space travel, so it would be surprising if either of them were revealed as the winner.  

Bezos’ besties! Barry Diller (left) and Jamie Dimon (right) are both close friends with the Amazon CEO

The winner, whose identity will be disclosed in the coming weeks, beat 20 other participants in an auction launched in late May. Pictured is the moment the $28million figure was reached 

The winner beat 20 other participants in an auction launched in late May.

Bezos, the world’s wealthiest man and a lifelong space enthusiast, has been racing against fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Elon Musk to be the first of the three to travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere. 

The billionaire space race is fueled by optimism that space travel will become mainstream as nascent technology is proven and costs fall, fueling what UBS estimates could be a $3 billion annual tourism market by 2030. 

Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, as well as Musk’s SpaceX, have also discussed using their rockets to link far-flung global cities.  

Blue Origin named the New Shepard program after astronaut Alan Shepard, who was the first American to fly into space exactly 60 years ago.

Washington state-based Blue Origin is largely self funded by Bezos, who has been selling over $1 billion worth of stock in Amazon per year to fund the company.

In sending tourists to space, Bezos has beaten Richard Branson and Elon Musk and their firms, Virgin Galactic and SpaceX to the punch.

Branson congratulated Bezos on the news, describing how their two firms are ‘opening up access to space.’

He tweeted: ‘ Many congratulations to @jeffbezos & his brother Mark on announcing spaceflight plans. Jeff started building Blue Origin in 2000, we started building Virgin Galactic in 2004 & now both are opening up access to Space – how extraordinary! Watch this space…’

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos inspects New Shepard’s West Texas launch facility before the rocket’s maiden voyage, in West Texas on June 7 

Bezos  recently announced that he and his brother Mark will be on the New Shepard spacecraft when it flies next month

Blue Origin, founded in 2000, touts itself as means to provide cheaper access to space through the use of reusable rockets, specifically the New Shepard that has flown 15 times.

The rocket’s sole mission is to take tourists to space, who would travel inside a sleek, white capsule atop the vehicle.

The capsule is designed with the iconic Blue Origin feather across the exterior and inside are six reclining seats that mirror those inside a helicopter.

Blue Origin’s plans are to send tourists 62 miles above Earth’s surface and spend at least 10 minutes in orbit.

The company also recently conducted its first astronaut rehearsal in preparation for sending the first manned New Shepard into space.

The mock crew traveled the designated path of future spacefaring tourists, which included traveling to the launch pad and climbing up the tower to the passenger capsule.

While celebrities and the uber-rich appear to be a core market for space tourist jaunts, at least initially, industry sources expect Blue Origin to include some philanthropic component to its ticket strategy.

The idea of sending paying customers to the edge of space was once only a plot in science fiction films, but many companies other than Blue Origin are turning the epic journey into a reality.

 ‘On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend,’ said earlier this month (pictured is an image of the inside of the space craft) 

Branson congratulated Bezos after the first flight was announced, describing how their two firms are ‘opening up access to space’

A college science professor and an aerospace data analyst are among a four-member crew for a launch into orbit planned later this year by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, part of a charity drive billed as the first all-civilian spaceflight in history.

Virgin Galactic also aims to fly private customers in early 2022, after a first flight with Branson on board later this year.

Its zero-gravity experience is anchored by its SpaceShipTwo plane, and the company has ambitious plans to offer point-to-point travel between far-flung cities at near-space altitudes.

Virgin says it will charge more than $250,000 for new reservations but has not announced final pricing. Sales will reopen following Branson’s flight. 


Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin’s space capsule

Dubbed the ‘NewSpace’ set, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk all say they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the US beat the Soviet Union in the space race, and there is no doubt how much it would mean to each of them to win the ‘new space race’.

Amazon founder Bezos looks set to be the first of the three to fly to space, having announced plans to launch aboard his space company Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft on July 20. 

The billionaire mogul will travel with his younger brother Mark, a former advertising executive and volunteer firefighter, and the winner of Saturday’s multi-million pound auction.

However, a report has suggested Branson might beat him to it, by making a suborbital flight two weeks before Bezos and his brother. The suggestion is the Virgin Galactic founder would travel on his VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo rocket plane on the July 4 weekend.

Although SpaceX and Tesla founder Musk has said he wants to go into space, and even ‘die on Mars’, he has not said when he might blast into orbit. 

SpaceX appears to be leading the way in the broader billionaire space race with numerous launches carrying NASA equipment to the ISS and partnerships to send tourists to space by 2021.  

On February 6 2018, SpaceX sent rocket towards the orbit of Mars, 140 million miles away, with Musk’s own red Tesla roadster attached. 

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

NASA has already selected two astronauts who will be on-board the first manned Dragon mission. 

SpaceX has also started sending batches of 60 satellites into space to help form its Starlink network. 

Musk hopes this will provide an interconnected web of satellites around Earth which will beam down free internet to people worldwide.  

Branson and Virgin Galactic are taking a different approach to conquering space. It has repeatedly, and successfully, conducted test flights of the Virgin Galactic’s Unity space plane. 

The first took place in December 2018 and the latest on May 22, with the flight accelerating to more than 2,000 miles per hour (Mach 2.7). 

More than 600 affluent customers to date, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin’s space trips. 

Branson has previously said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his private rocket firm SpaceX. 

Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft

SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows – one to the side and one overhead.

The space ship is 60ft long with a 90inch diameter cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.

It climbs to 50,000ft before the rocket engine ignites. SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier craft, White Knight II, once it has passed the 50-mile mark.

Passengers become ‘astronauts’ when they reach the Karman line, the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere.

The spaceship will then make a suborbital journey with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight lasting approximately 1.5 hours.

Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he finances Blue Origin with around $1 billion (£720 million) of Amazon stock each year.

The system consists of a pressurised crew capsule atop a reusable ‘New Shepard’ booster rocket.   

Bezos is one of the richest men in the world and Blue Origin has successfully flown the New Shepard rocket 15 times.

At its peak, the capsule reached 65 miles (104 kilometres), just above the official threshold for space and landed vertically seven minutes after liftoff.  

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