Ken Griffin won two seats on a Blue Origin spaceflight, and donated them both to New York City teachers.
Ken Griffin is the founder and CEO of multinational hedge fund company Citadel. At 53, he’s worth an estimated $19 billion, making him the 45th richest person in the United States.
On Monday, he placed the winning bid for a seat in Blue Origin rocket New Shepherd, at $8 million. The auction was for the nonprofit Robin Hood, which fights generational poverty in New York City. Blue Origin donated two seats to be auctioned off, with one going to the winner and the second going to a public school teacher.
But despite his high bid, Griffin has no plans to go to space himself. Instead, he’s arranged that both seats will be given to NYC teachers. A spokesperson from Robin Hood said that the charity, Blue Origin, and the NYC Department of Education will collaborate with Griffin to chose the two lucky teachers.
In 1984, when Ronald Reagan announced the Teacher In Space Project for NASA, it was hoped that seeing a school teacher – not an astronaut or an ace pilot, but someone much closer to the general public – would help inspire students to follow science tracks and hopefully, someday, work in space flight. Christa McAuliffe was the first participant, a high school teacher from New Hampshire. Unfortunately, her flight was aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, and the Teacher in Space program passed with her.
But that goal of inspiration is why Blue Origin, which has not yet had a loss-of-life incident, intended to send a teacher. And now Griffin has given them the chance to send two.
It’s also worth noting that the price at auction of Blue Origin spaceflight seats is dropping rapidly. Last year, seats went for nearly $30 million. And all for barely twenty minutes of flight, two minutes of weightlessness, and a glimpse at the world from outside.
Photo: T. Schneider / Shutterstock