A Dutch 18-year-old is set to be the youngest person to go into space after securing at the last minute a seat on Blue Origin’s first commercial spaceflight.
Oliver Daemen will ride atop the aerospace upstart's New Shepard rocket, which is expected to launch on July 20. And he’ll have Blue Origin supremo Jeff Bezos, Bezos’ younger brother Mark, and Wally Funk, a member of the Mercury 13 group, for company on the journey. If all goes well, the lad will be the youngest person to fly to space, and 82-years-old Funk will be the oldest.
"I am super excited to go into space," Daemen said in a video shared on Twitter. "I've been dreaming about this all my life. Now I'll become the youngest astronaut ever because I'm 18 years old."
De 18-jarige Oliver Daemen uit Tilburg wordt de jongste astronaut ooit en de vierde Nederlander in de ruimte. Hij gaat mee met de ruimtereis van #BlueOrigin van #JeffBezos. Oliver is onderweg naar Texas, waar de lancering dinsdag plaatsvindt.https://t.co/hMsJWorRQK pic.twitter.com/5Xl3mqSAJt— Bright (@Bright) July 15, 2021
Believe it or not, the anonymous moneybags who bid $28m for a ticket on the same flight dropped out due to “scheduling conflicts,” and will go up in a later trip.
The runner-up of the auction – Joes Daemen – was offered and took the opportunity to bag the now vacant place, though opted to give the ticket to his son, Oliver. The bid amount was not disclosed.
Daemen is the CEO of Somerset Capital Partners, a private-equity investment firm in the Netherlands, according to Dutch news channel RTL Nieuws.
At least some of the money from the auction will go to Blue Origin’s non-profit firm Club for the Future, which will donate $1m to 19 charities. “We thank the auction winner for their generous support of Club for the Future and are honored to welcome Oliver to fly with us on New Shepard,” Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin, said in a statement.
“This marks the beginning of commercial operations for New Shepard, and Oliver represents a new generation of people who will help us build a road to space.”
Oliver graduated from high school last year, and has taken a gap year to pursue a private pilot’s license. He was accepted into the University of Utrecht to study physics and innovation management, and is said to have been fascinated by space, the Moon, and rockets since he was four.
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Bezos and the gang won’t be in space for long; they’re only going a smidgen beyond the Kármán line, the 100km or 62-mile point above sea level, before coming straight back to terra firma. The whole journey is expected to last only ten minutes or so. ®