Jeff Bezos Picks 18-Year-Old Dutch Student for Blue Origin Rocket Launch

Someone paid $28 million to not go to house with Jeff Bezos subsequent week. Instead, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands will be part of the flight.

His identify is Oliver Daemen, and the flight would make him the youngest particular person ever to go to house.

Mr. Bezos, who simply stepped down as chief govt of Amazon, introduced final month that he can be one of many passengers when his rocket firm, Blue Origin, conducts its first human spaceflight. The flight is scheduled for Tuesday, to coincide with the 52nd anniversary of the touchdown of Apollo 11 on the moon. It is to observe Richard Branson’s flight to the sting of house this previous Sunday in a rocket aircraft constructed for the corporate he based, Virgin Galactic.

When Mr. Bezos made the announcement, he mentioned one of many different seats on New Shepard, a reusable suborbital capsule that goes up greater than 62 miles earlier than coming again down, can be auctioned to the very best bidder, with the proceeds going to Mr. Bezos’ space-focused charity, Club for the Future.

More than 7,600 individuals from 159 international locations participated within the monthlong public sale, which concluded on June 12. The profitable bid was $28 million, and Blue Origin mentioned it will reveal the bidder at a later date.

On Thursday, simply 5 days earlier than the flight, Blue Origin nonetheless didn’t reveal the profitable bidder, however mentioned in a information launch that this particular person determined to defer his journey to a future New Shepard launch “due to scheduling conflicts.”

Instead, Mr. Daemen, the son of the chief govt of a non-public fairness funding and one of many runners-up within the public sale, will take the seat.

A mock inside of the Blue Origin Crew Capsule proven in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2017.Credit…Isaiah J. Downing/Reuters

“He was a participant in the auction and had secured a seat on the second flight,” Sara Blask, a Blue Origin spokeswoman, mentioned in an e-mail. “We moved him up when this seat on the first flight became available.”

Mr. Daemen graduated from highschool final yr and is taking a yr off from faculty earlier than beginning within the fall at Utrecht University within the Netherlands.

“This is a dream come true!” Mr. Daemen mentioned in a information launch from the household. “I hadn’t counted on this at all until last week that surprising phone call from Blue Origin came. This is so unbelievably cool! The flight to and into space only takes 10 minutes, but I already know that these will be the most special 10 minutes of my life.”

Blue Origin’s spacecraft, New Shepard, is designed for transient space-tourist flights, much like Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. But, in contrast to Virgin Galactic’s house aircraft design, New Shepard is extra of a conventional rocket that launches vertically. Near the highest of the arc, the capsule, the place as much as six individuals sit, separates from the booster. The booster and the capsule coast to an altitude above 62 miles, regarded by many because the boundary of outer house. The capsule’s touchdown is slowed by a parachute.

On this primary flight, there will probably be 4 individuals aboard: Mr. Daemen; Mr. Bezos; Mr. Bezos’ brother, Mark; and Mary Wallace Funk, a pilot who within the 1960s was amongst a gaggle of girls who handed the identical rigorous standards that NASA used for choosing astronauts. But that was at a time when the house company had no real interest in choosing ladies as astronauts.

At 18, Mr. Daemen would be the youngest particular person ever to go to house. At 82, Ms. Funk, who goes by Wally, would be the oldest.

According to the household’s information launch, Mr. Daemen and his father, Joes Daemen, founding father of Somerset Capital Partners within the Netherlands, had been intrigued by the potential of getting on the flight. “But when the bids started to skyrocket during the auction, we dropped out,” Joes Daemen mentioned.

Blue Origin didn’t reveal how a lot the Daemens had been paying for the seat; it has not but publicly introduced a value for tickets. According to the Daemens, the value is quite a bit decrease than the $28 million profitable bid. The cash they paid will probably be donated by Blue Origin to a charity that has not but been decided.

On Wednesday, Blue Origin introduced that $19 million from the $28 million profitable bid will go to 19 space-related nonprofit organizations — $1 million every. The recipients embody AstraFemina, a collective of girls in science and engineering who intention to function function fashions to women; the Brook Owens Fellowship, which provides paid internships and fellowships to undergraduate ladies; and Higher Orbits, an experimental studying lab for highschool college students.

Kitty Bennett contributed analysis and Claire Moses contributed translation.

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