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Winner of Blue Origin's $28 million auction to fly with 5 'space warriors' next year

A New Shepard rocket and capsule lift off from Blue Origin's launch site in West Texas.
A New Shepard rocket and capsule lift off from Blue Origin's launch site in West Texas. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

The identity of Blue Origin's spaceflight auction winner is no longer a mystery.

Justin Sun, the founder and CEO of the blockchain platform Tron, announced today (Dec. 22) that he's the person who paid $28 million for a seat aboard Blue Origin's first crewed spaceflight.

That mission launched on July 20, carrying Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and three other people to suborbital space on the company's New Shepard spacecraft. The then-unnamed auction winner was not among them, however, remaining groundbound due to scheduling conflicts, Blue Origin representatives said at the time.

In photos: Blue Origin's 1st New Shepard passenger launch with Jeff Bezos

But it turns out that Sun's spaceflight dreams were just deferred, not dashed. The 31-year-old entrepreneur said today that he plans to fly on a New Shepard mission next year, along with five other "space warriors" that he will nominate.

Sun outlined what he's looking for in a Twitter thread today (opens in new tab). One crewmate nominee will be "a prominent figure in the crypto[currency] world," he said. Another will be a Tron community member "with a strong passion for space," and another will be a tech entrepreneur. The fourth and fifth nominees will be an artist and a celebrity, respectively.

More details about the nomination process and the criteria involved will be released over the coming months, Blue Origin representatives said.

Sun's $28 million bid went to Club for the Future, Blue Origin's nonprofit. Club for the Future aims to inspire kids to pursue careers in science, engineering, technology and math "and to help invent the future of life in space," according to the organization's website (opens in new tab).

Sun said he shares these ambitious goals.

"With the rapid development of commercial aerospace, entering space may become a dream that every person can realize in his or her lifetime. We are entering the era of great spaceflight. This great journey requires more people to get involved," Sun said in a Blue Origin statement (opens in new tab)

"The initiative of Blue Origin to take more people to space to see Earth as our singular common home is extraordinary," he added. "Club for the Future offers a way to use that experience to inspire youth around the world to dream and act on their dreams of science, technology and space exploration. I felt compelled to help further that vision through my bid."

Sun was born and raised in China, but the Caribbean nation of Grenada recently appointed him (opens in new tab) its ambassador to the World Trade Organization. Sun will be the first Grenadian, the first international diplomat and the first blockchain industry leader to travel to space, according to Blue Origin.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab)

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.