The winner of June’s $28 million auction for a seat on Blue Origin’s suborbital spaceship revealed himself today — and is buying tickets for five more people to fly with him a year from now.
It would be hard to come up with a quirkier résumé than the one put together by Justin Sun, the 31-year-old crypto pioneer who put in the winning bid.
He’s a Chinese-born entrepreneur who founded the Tron cryptocurrency platform and serves as the CEO of Rainberry Inc., the file-sharing company formerly known as BitTorrent Inc.
Sun, a protégé of Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, recently became a citizen of the Caribbean island nation of Grenada. Last week he was named Grenada’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization in Geneva.
Although his net worth is currently estimated at a mere $200 million, he’s no stranger to high-stakes bidding. In 2019, he bid $4.6 million just to have lunch with billionaire Warren Buffett.
Sun said he was drawn to Blue Origin’s vision of sharing the spaceflight experience with the wider public.
“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 news release.
He pointed in particular to the Club for the Future, Blue Origin’s nonprofit educational foundation, which is distributing millions of dollars in proceeds from Sun’s bid to 19 space-related charities.
“The initiative of Blue Origin to take more people to space to see Earth as our singular common home is extraordinary,” Sun said. “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.”
Blue Origin says Sun is due to fly sometime during the fourth quarter of 2022.
At the time of the auction, it was thought that the winning bidder would go on Blue Origin’s first crewed flight in July — riding alongside Jeff Bezos, who created Blue Origin as a privately held space venture several years after founding Amazon. But Blue Origin said the winner couldn’t make that date due to a scheduling conflict, and would have to fly at a later time.
The nature of the conflict hasn’t been revealed. But just after Blue Origin’s milestone mission, news outlets reported that Sun was participating in a blockchain-related research project at the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Party School.
Sun said he would select five other people to fly with him in Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital space capsule during next year’s “Sea of Stars” mission. The mission would follow New Shepard’s typical flight profile, blasting off from the Kent, Wash.-based company’s Launch Site One in West Texas. The six spacefliers would experience a few minutes of weightlessness and get a look at the curving Earth through the capsule’s giant windows, during an up-and-down journey that would last about 10 minutes.
Each of Sun’s spaceship companions is to be selected using a tailor-made set of criteria. “In this coming year, names of the five space warriors will be released sequentially,” Sun tweeted.
“Our first nominee will be a prominent figure in the crypto world who is crazy about cruising in Metaverse. Guess Who?” Sun said.
Other nominees would include a member of the Tron crypto community, a tech entrepreneur, and an “artist who has the wildest dreams of space and the future of humankind,” Sun said. Details on the nomination process will be announced in the coming months.
A spokesperson for Blue Origin told GeekWire in an email that Sun is paying the fares for his five crewmates, separately from the $28 million he bid for his own seat. “We do not disclose the purchase price of the tickets,” the spokesperson said.