18-year-old Dutchman set to become the youngest in space

CAP CANAVERAL, Fla .– An 18-year-old is set to become the youngest person in space, soaring with an aviation pioneer who will become the oldest at 82.

Blue Origin announced Thursday that instead of a $ 28 million auction winner launched Tuesday with founder Jeff Bezos, the Dutch son of another bidder would be on board. The company said Oliver Daemen would be the first paying customer, but did not disclose the price of his ticket. But a family spokesperson said it would be considerably less than the winning bid.

Daemen landed the fourth and final space capsule seat after the auction winner pulled out due to a scheduling conflict. The offer came in a surprise phone call from Blue Origin last week, he said.

“It’s incredibly cool!” Daemen said in a statement. “The flight to and into space only takes 10 minutes, but I already know it will be the most special 10 minutes of my life.”

He added in a video posted by Dutch broadcaster RTL: “I’m super excited to experience zero-g and see the world from above.”

Also on Blue Origin’s first launch with passengers: brother of Bezos and Wally Funk, one of 13 female pilots who underwent the same tests in the early 1960s as NASA’s Mercury 7 astronauts but are never gone into space because only men were allowed.

The four men will take off from West Texas on top of a New Shepard rocket for a 10-minute flight. The Amazon founder will become the second person to fly his own rocket into space, after nine-day Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson.

The teenage tourist was going to be on the second launch for paying customers, according to Blue Origin. But after the auction winner gave up, the company seized on the idea of ​​having the older and younger people fly in space on the same flight, the family spokesperson noted. .

The undisclosed cost of his ticket will be donated to charity, just as most of the winning $ 28 million was distributed this week to various space education and advocacy groups.

“This marks the start of business operations for New Shepard, and Oliver represents a new generation of people who will help us build a road to space,” Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said in a statement.

Blue Origin has yet to open ticket sales to the public or disclose its expected prices. It’s scheduled after the next flight.

Daemen took a year off after graduating from high school last year to earn his private pilot license. He will go to Utrecht University in the Netherlands in September.

His father is Joes Daemen, Founder and CEO of Somerset Capital Partners, a private equity firm in Oisterwijk, The Netherlands. The father and son were both on their way to Texas on Thursday to prepare for the launch, according to their spokesperson.

The elder Daemen said he made a bid on the seat at the June 12 auction. “But when the bids started to skyrocket during the auction, we gave up,” he said in a statement.

Blue Origin said the unidentified auction winner will take a future flight.

Daemen has already received some great space travel advice from Dutch astronaut and dual space pilot Andre Kuipers. According to the statement, Kuipers told him “not to make the classic mistake of taking pictures during the short time he is standing, but to take full advantage of the view of our beautiful planet.”

Soviet cosmonaut Ghermon Titov holds the record for the youngest to fly in space. He was 25 when he went into orbit four months after Yuri Gagarin, the first person in space. John Glenn was 77 when he boarded the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1998, 37 years after becoming the first American to orbit the world.

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PA journalist Mike Corder in The Hague, The Netherlands, contributed to this report.

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The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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