The 18-year-old son of a Dutch financier will join Jeff Bezos on Blue Origin’s first commercial spaceflight — after the person who paid $28 million at auction for a seat was too busy to make it, the company announced Thursday.
Oliver Daemen will replace the anonymous winner, who had to bow out of the July 20 trip to the edge of space “due to a scheduling conflict,” Blue Origin said.
“I am super excited to go into space,” Daemen said in a video posted on social media. “I’ve been dreaming about this all my life.”
The teen tourist will become the first paying Blue Origin customer — and is also set to be the youngest person to every fly to space.
Daemen, who took a year off after graduating from high school last year to obtain his private pilot’s license, snagged the fourth and last seat aboard the New Shepard rocket.
He will join the Amazon founder and his brother Mark, as well as Wally Funk, one of 13 female pilots who went through the same tests as NASA’s Mercury 7 astronauts in the 1960s — but never made it into space because only men were allowed.
At 82, Funk will be the oldest person to fly to space. When the auction winner dropped out, Blue Origin seized on the idea of of flying the oldest and youngest people in space on the same flight, a family spokesperson noted.
The unidentified winner will catch a future flight, Blue Origin said.
The company didn’t reveal the price of Daemen’s ticket, but the spokesperson said it would be considerably less than the winning bid.
Daemen’s father Joes Daemen, the founder and CEO of private equity firm Somerset Capital Partners in the Netherlands, was another bidder during last month’s auction for a seat of Blue Origin’s inaugural human flight.
“But when the bids started to skyrocket during the auction, we dropped out,” the elder Daemen said in a statement.
Daemen, who will attend the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands in September to study physics and innovation management, was going to be on the company’s second launch for paying customers.
Both father and son were on their way to Texas Thursday to prepare for the launch.
“This is so unbelievably cool!” Daemen said in a statement. “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.”
His secret ticket cost will be donated to charity, just as most of the winning $28 million bid was handed out this week to several space education and advocacy groups.
Blue Origin has yet to open ticket sales to the public or disclose its anticipated prices. That’s expected following the company’s maiden crewed voyage.
The flight will come a little over a week after space-tourism rival Virgin Galactic successfully sent a crew including its founder, British billionaire Richard Branson, to space.
With Post wires