VAN HORN, TEXAS – DECEMBER 11: Blue Origin’s New Shepard flies toward space carrying Good Morning … [+] America co-anchor Michael Strahan, Laura Shepard Churchley, daughter of astronaut Alan Shepard, and four other civilians on December 11, 2021 near Van Horn, Texas. The six are riding aboard mission NS-19, the third human spaceflight for the company which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)Getty Images
It was a last minute switcheroo: after outbidding over 2,600 others and paying $28 million for a ticket to space, the anonymous winner of Blue Origin’s auction for a seat on their first flight decided to back out from the flight and 18-year old Oliver Daemen took his or her place. Today we finally know who that millionaire auction winner was: Justin Sun, founder of the cryptocurrency TRON and recently named Permanent Representative to the WTO for Grenada.
In a series of tweets, Sun announced that he had won the auction but was unable to make the flight:
While he didn’t share details, it seems likely that travel restrictions from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic played at least some part. But that’s no concern now: in subsequent tweets, Sun detailed a plan to select five “warriors” who will join him on a 2022 flight to space with Blue Origin.
Each of these lucky fellow passengers will be selected by Sun; some seem to have already been chosen as leaders in their field, whereas others may be screened through some sort of application process with the final winner chosen by sun.
The flight is “expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2022” according to the website Sun launched as part of the campaign.
This is certainly not the first time an exceptionally wealthy person has announced a campaign like this – Jason Isaacman hand-picked his three fellow passengers on the Inspiration4 mission, and we’re still waiting for details about Yusaku Maezawa’s #dearMoon project after his recent trip to the ISS –, and reactions online are mixed. It’s hard to deny that Sun has an enthusiasm for space, and sees the potential for the industry.
His twitter thread ends with a sentiment that many less fortunate fellow space enthusiasts can certainly get behind – even if they’re not picked for one of the five spots on this flight: “With the rapid development of commercial aerospace, entering space may become a dream that everyone can realize in their lifetime.”