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Blue Origin will start selling seats on its New Shepard spacecraft next week

Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket launches the crew capsule RSS First Step on an uncrewed suborbital test flight from the company's Launch Site One in West Texas on April 14, 2021.
Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket launches the crew capsule RSS First Step on an uncrewed suborbital test flight from the company's Launch Site One in West Texas on April 14, 2021. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin is about to start selling seats on its New Shepard suborbital spacecraft.

"It's time. You can buy the very first seat on #NewShepard. Sign up to learn how at http://blueorigin.com. Details coming May 5th. #GradatimFerociter," the company, which is run by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, said via Twitter today (April 29). ("Gradatim Ferociter" is Blue Origin's motto. It means "step by step, ferociously.")

Blue Origin didn't just pluck May 5 out of the air. It's the 60th anniversary of the first crewed American spaceflight, which sent NASA astronaut Alan Shepard — after whom New Shepard is named — on a 15-minute suborbital jaunt. 

Shepard didn't make the first-ever human spaceflight, of course. That distinction goes to cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who launched on a mission to Earth orbit on April 12, 1961.

New Shepard is a reusable rocket-capsule duo that Blue Origin is developing to take people and scientific experiments to suborbital space. The six-passenger capsule has flown 15 uncrewed test missions to date, the most recent of which occurred on April 14. Blue Origin billed this month's flight as an "astronaut rehearsal mission," so today's news doesn't exactly come out of left field.

Blue Origin has not said how much a seat aboard New Shepard will cost; presumably, we'll find out on May 5. But for perspective: The most recent price for a seat aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, New Shepard's main competitor in the suborbital space tourism game, was $250,000.

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

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Mike Wall
SPACE.COM SENIOR SPACE WRITER — Michael has been writing for Space.com since 2010. 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.