Agence France-PresseJuly 16, 2021 12:44:29 pm
Blue Origin said Thursday that an 18-year-old paying customer will fly into space on the company’s first manned space flight on July 20, becoming the youngest astronaut in history.
Oliver Daemen, who graduated from high school last year and has a private pilot license, joins Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, mogul’s brother Mark, and barrier-breaking aviator Wally Funk as the fourth member of the crew.
However, it is not the winner of a $ 28 million auction followed enthusiastically by space enthusiasts, who have asked to remain anonymous and will be flying on a future mission due to a scheduling conflict, the company said.
“This marks the beginning of New Shepard’s business operations, and Oliver represents a new generation of people who will help us build a path into space,” said Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin.
New Shepard, named for the first American astronaut in space, Alan Shepard, is Blue Origin’s reusable rocket system.
Smith also thanked the auction winner for his support of the Club for the Future, the Blue Origin foundation, which this week announced it would donate $ 1 million to 19 nonprofit organizations promoting science and engineering.
Flying in New Shepard will fulfill a lifelong dream for Daemen, who has been fascinated by space, the Moon and rockets since he was four years old, according to a statement.
He plans to attend Utrecht University in the Netherlands to study physics and innovation management this September.
The company did not reveal Daemen’s nationality, but its Instagram, which had photos of him enjoying activities such as surfing, kitesurfing and diving, features comments mostly in Dutch.
The price of the ticket has not been revealed.
At 18 and 82 years old, Daemen and Funk will be the youngest and oldest astronauts to travel to space.
Space tourism takes off
Bezos, the richest person in the world, hopes to join Richard Branson in reaching space on a boat built by a company he founded.
Branson accomplished the feat in a Virgin Galactic spacecraft on Sunday, a historic moment for the nascent space tourism industry.
Although Bezos will take second place, Blue Origin has boasted that his experience is superior.
The Blue Origin rocket breaks the internationally recognized limit of space at an altitude of 100 kilometers, while Virgin Galactic broke the 50-mile limit that is recognized by the United States.
The new reusable Shepard rockets, which are launched vertically from the ground, are more environmentally friendly than Virgin Galactic’s space plane, which emits greenhouse gases and soot.
Blue Origin’s ambitions also extend well beyond space tourism, with the company vying to become a major contractor for NASA missions.
Currently, NASA’s leading private sector partner is Elon Musk’s SpaceX, who began taking astronauts to the International Space Station in 2020 and is developing a deep space rocket for future missions to Mars.