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Blue Origin's Flight Will Include The Youngest And The Oldest Humans To Go To Space

Oliver Daemen, 18, will join Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and two others on a trip to the edge of space next week.
Blue Origin
Oliver Daemen, 18, will join Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and two others on a trip to the edge of space next week.

Updated July 20, 2021 at 7:15 AM ET

New Shepard is set for lift off from the company's facilities in Van Horn, Texas, at 9 a.m. ET Tuesday. Blue Origin will have coverage on its website starting at 7:30 a.m. ET.

One year after graduating from high school, Oliver Daemen will become the first paying customer to fly on the New Shepard spacecraft.

Daemen, 18, has been taking a gap year before starting college in the Netherlands. He'll now make history as the youngest person to fly in space after the original winner of an auction for seats on the suborbital flight had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts.

"I am super excited to go into space," Daemen said in a video posted on Twitter. "I've been dreaming about this all my life."

The flight on Tuesday will also include Wally Funk, 82 — who was older than Daemen is now back in the early 1960s when she first trained to be an astronaut.

If all goes as planned, Funk will rewrite history as the oldest person to fly in space, while Daemen sets the new mark for the youngest person to reach space.

In the past year, Daemen has been working toward obtaining his private pilot's license, according to a statement from Blue Origin. In the fall, he is slated to start classes at the University of Utrecht, where he will study physics and innovation management.

The upcoming launch will be New Shepard's first human-crewed spaceflight. For the trip, Daemen and Funk will join Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark Bezos.

Daemen's father is Joes Daemen, founder and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. The elder Daemen initially secured a spot for his son on New Shepard's second flight, according to the news outlet RTL Nieuws.

After getting a surprise call that a seat had opened up on the trip, the younger Daemen is now on his way to Texas to prepare for Tuesday's launch, the site added.

Few details have been released about the winner of the auction for the fourth seat on New Shepard, who has asked to remain anonymous, according to Blue Origin. The space company said that the person "has chosen to fly on a future New Shepard mission due to scheduling conflicts."

The mystery bidder won the auction for the voyage last month, offering to pay some $28 million to join the brief trip into space.

"The mission is estimated to last about 11 minutes," as NPR's Avie Schneider reported. "That works out to $2.545 million per minute. Or $42,424 per second."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.