WhatNot is offering a Black Friday prize for a free trip to space

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Direct shopping and auction platform Whatnot earned the coveted .LA Startup of the Year spot, so it’s clear the company was destined for greatness. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the company announced a massive Black Friday shopping event this year with a truly one-of-a-kind jackpot. (And note that we don’t use the cliché “out of this world” to describe the award, because the pun is below us as an organization.)


That’s right: Through November 28, shoppers can enter for a chance to win an actual trip into outer space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket. (Blue Origin, of course, is the aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight services company founded by Amazon mastermind Jeff Bezos in 2000.) Of course, the lucky winner will have to go through a number of qualification checks, and agree to rigorous flight standards, before they can claim the prize. officially. It is space, after all.

The FAA approved Blue Origin to fly humans out into the universe via the New Shepard system last year, right before Bezos’ maiden flight on July 20, 2021. The CEO and his fellow astronauts — which included his brother Mark, 82-year-old aeronaut Wally Funk year-old and 18-year-old student Oliver Damen (although, unfortunately, not Pete Davidson) – they trained together for only 14 hours before their space flight in the two days before launch.

The training itself consists of class instruction, some live demos, and then a few drills run in a specialized training pod. In the end, the astronauts go through a few different time simulations — essentially recreating how they entered, exited, and moved in the capsule while in space — and take a final test. The New Shepard itself is fully automated and controlled by the flight crew on the ground, so the astronauts aboard need not learn how to actually operate it in any way. They can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

There are some physical requirements that the FAA and Blue Origin will also need for winners. Perhaps most importantly, astronauts experience a pressure of about 5.5 GPa for a few seconds during their final descent into Earth’s atmosphere, which can take a huge physical toll on the human body. In addition, they must be able to scale the launch tower—the equivalent of about seven flights of stairs—in 90 seconds, and they must be able to easily navigate uneven surfaces, such as ramps or decks with steps. Staying attached to a group for 40-90 minutes without having to get up, move around, and use the bathroom is also essential for obvious reasons. Plus Blue Origin passengers should be able to buckle and unbuckle their seatbelt in less than 15 seconds, which the company compares to buckling in an unfamiliar car in the dark. Finally, all participants must be able to hear and understand the instructions in English.

It’s a far cry from the era of movies like “The Right Stuff,” “Space Camp,” and even “Armageddon,” which portrayed preparations for outer space travel as physically grueling and time-consuming. “Armageddon,” specifically, makes a major plot point for the dig team who only gets two weeks — not nearly enough time! – To complete training before leaving Earth for an incoming asteroid. However, if commercial spaceflight and space tourism are to take off as viable industries, cutting back on preparation time is essential. Many people would like to experience the marvel of orbiting the Earth, but they can’t necessarily take 3 months of work out to fully become familiar with the sensation of weightlessness.

For those shoppers who aren’t so lucky to hit Full Bezos and touch the sky, there are a number of other prizes on offer as well. This week’s runner-up gifts include Crystal Pikachu figures designed by artist Daniel Arsham. a Cosmos Birkin bag, worth $20,000; Nike Air Mags as featured in “Back to the Future”; and a collection of Michael Jordan memorabilia taken from the 1993 “Space Jam” set, collectively valued at nearly $10,000.

The promotion concludes an important year for Whatnot, which now ranks as the largest independent direct shopping platform in the United States. In July, the company closed a $260 million Series D funding round led by DST Global and Alphabet’s independent growth fund, CapitalG, bringing its total value to about $3.7 billion. The company offers a live auction platform that specializes in collectibles, from sneakers to trading cards and memorabilia to rare toys. The new investment will help them expand into more collectible categories, including diecast cars, stamps, and action figures.

And hopefully someday, cowboy hats, in case Bezos needs stocking up. – Lone Harris

What we read…

Hyperion Motors plans to launch mobile refueling stations across the country capable of powering both hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles.

LA-based decentralized identity startup Carv has raised $4 million in a new funding round led by early-stage venture capital firm Vertex.

– The NBA champions the Golden State Warriors have been named as defendants in a class action lawsuit brought by an FTX client; The Warriors named FTX the team’s official crypto platform last year.

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