Blue Origin shares multimillion-dollar spaceship ticket proceeds with 19 charities
There are only so many postcards you can send to space and back, even if you have $28 million to work with.
That’s one reason why the Club for the Future, the educational nonprofit foundation created by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture, is giving 19 space-related charities the lion’s share of the proceeds from the $28 million fare that a mystery auction winner is paying to go on a suborbital space trip.
The winner, who’s due to be revealed any day now, will ride along with Bezos himself, his brother Mark and “Mercury 13” aviation pioneer Wally Funk when Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket ship lifts off from a West Texas spaceport on July 20. Taking place on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, this flight will mark the first crewed mission for a suborbital launch vehicle that’s been tested 15 times in uncrewed mode.
When Blue Origin launched the auction in May, the company promised that the proceeds would go to the Club for the Future, whose signature educational program involves taking in postcards from kids, flying them on New Shepard, and then returning them to the senders as mementos. The foundation also creates space-related classroom activities and does outreach at public events.
Five weeks later, the winning bid of $28 million raised eyebrows — even at Blue Origin. “With $28 million, we’re going to inspire a lot of kids,” Ariane Cornell, the company’s director of astronaut strategy and sales, said at the time.
Now the Club for the Future is going to have some help spending the money, and spreading the inspiration.
“This donation is enabling Club for the Future to rapidly expand its reach by partnering with 19 organizations to develop and inspire the next generation of space professionals,” Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said today in a news release. “Our generation will build the road to space, and these efforts will ensure the next generation is ready to go even further.”
The Club for the Future is offering a $1 million grant to each of these 19 groups:
- AIAA Foundation
- Astronaut Scholarship Foundation
- Brooke Owens Fellowship and its spin-off, the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship. GeekWire was among the first companies to host a “Brookie” for her fellowship.
- Challenger Center, which serves K-12 students through 40 Challenger Learning Centers — including a center at Seattle’s Museum of Flight.
- Higher Orbits, which organizes space-centric learning activities for secondary-school students in partnership with organizations across the country, including the Museum of Flight.
- International Astronautical Federation, which has developed an Emerging Space Leaders Grant Program.
- The Mars Society
- National Space Society
- The Planetary Society
- SciArt Exchange
- Space Camp
- Space Center Houston
- Space For Art Foundation
- Space For Humanity
- Space Frontier Foundation
- Space Generation Advisory Council
- Students for the Exploration and Development of Space
- Teachers in Space
Meanwhile, the Club for the Future will continue its work on classroom curriculum — and, of course, on the “Postcards to Space” program. More than 25,000 postcards flew on the most recent uncrewed New Shepard test flight in April. It’s a safe bet that Blue Origin will find room for a few more on next week’s milestone flight.