Blue Origin launch: 18-year-old Oliver Daemen to be youngest person to fly into space as he joins Jeff Bezos on rocket

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The mystery bidder who put up a whopping U$28 million (A$37 million) for an 11-minute joy ride to the edge of space alongside Jeff Bezos will not make the trip.

Bezos’ rocket company Blue Origin said in a press release that the person, who asked to remain anonymous for the time being, had to bow out because of “scheduling conflicts.”

The winner will instead take a spot on a future mission. Flying in their place — alongside Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, and Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pilot and one of the “Mercury 13” women — will be an 18-year old recent high school graduate named Oliver Daemen.

The flight is slated for July 20.

Daemen “was a participant in the auction and had secured a seat on the second flight. We moved him up when this seat on the first flight became available,” a Blue Origin spokesperson told CNN.

18-year-old Oliver Daemen is about to become the youngest person in space. Credit: AP

“We’re not disclosing how much he paid.”

A source familiar with the matter said Daemen’s spot was purchased for him by his father, Joes Daemen, who is the founder and CEO of Somerset Capital Partners, an investment firm based in the Netherlands.

This 2006 photo provided by his family shows a young Oliver.
This 2006 photo provided by his family shows a young Oliver. Credit: AP

Daemen, who plans to attend the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, will become the youngest person ever to fly to space, while Funk will become the oldest.

This trip will mark the first ever crewed flight of Blue Origin’s suborbital space tourism rocket, called New Shepard, and the company used that fact as a selling point leading up to a livestreamed bidding war last month.

This illustration provided by Blue Origin shows the capsule that the company aims to take tourists into space.
This illustration provided by Blue Origin shows the capsule that the company aims to take tourists into space. Credit: AP

The U$28 million (A$37 million) bid was far higher than most had anticipated the auction would fetch.

Blue Origin donated the money to its nonprofit group, Club for the Future, which is focused on encouraging science and tech education among children.

Club for the Future in turn donated U$19 million (A$25 million) of that money to a variety of space-focused nonprofits, including the Brooke Owens Fellowship, which is a women-in-tech scholarship fund, and the famed but financially struggling Space Camp in Alabama.

This 2021 photo provided by Daemen’s family shows him in an airplane cockpit.
This 2021 photo provided by Daemen’s family shows him in an airplane cockpit. Credit: AP

Blue Origin has spent the better part of the last decade running the suborbital New Shepard rocket through a series of successful test flights that have been fully automated and, thus far, carried no humans.

The company announced last month that it was finally ready to begin scheduling flights for passengers and that Bezos, the Amazon billionaire who founded Blue Origin in 2000, would be on the first-ever mission.

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