Last week, when Jeff Bezos said that he would be on Blue Origin's first manned flight to space on July 20, he also said he wasn't planning to go alone. His brother, Mark, would ride with him. It turns out the pair are also taking a few other passengers, one of whom would be the winner of an auction for a seat.
Now we know how much it costs to fly into space with Jeff Bezos: $28 million. That's the result of a live auction on Saturday, which started at $4 million for what will be an 11-minute flight to space and back. That's all it takes to travel to 340,000 feet, an altitude 10 times that at which a commercial airplane flies.
Blue Origin isn't saying who the highest bidder was--at least, not yet. The company says it will share that information in the next few weeks. Whoever they are, I think they got a steal.
Look, I'm not saying that I would spend that much. To be clear, I couldn't spend that much even if it was something I wanted to do.
But, if you can, this is actually an incredible deal.
I understand that you could argue there are plenty of things you could do with that money. But it isn't like the $28 million is going in Bezos's pocket. Blue Origin is donating the proceeds to its Club for the Future charity, which says its mission is "to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and to help invent the future of life in space."
In this case, spending that kind of money on an 11-minute trip isn't futile. If it helps the rationalization, you can always tell yourself it's for a good cause. More important, however, if you are the type of person who has the means to spend that kind of money, there's almost nothing else you could do with it that would compare personally with traveling to space.
There is actually science behind the justification for spending that kind of money on an experience like this. It has to do with the feeling of regret that comes with the decisions we make in life.
When we spend money on tangible items, especially large purchases, humans almost always experience a degree of buyer's remorse. Partially, that's because the excitement of buying something new is often in the process of buying it. Once you have it, whatever it is, there's almost always some level of letdown.
On the other hand, spending money--even a lot of money--on an experience is far less likely to result in the same type of buyer's remorse or regret. On the contrary, we are far more likely to regret the things we don't do--the chances we didn't take.
There are only 556 people who have been to space. Only three of them will be able to say they went there with the wealthiest person on this planet. I feel like there is almost no chance you would regret being one of them. It would only take $28 million to find out.