Teenager to fly with Bezos on first space tourism flight

July 15 (Reuters) – An 18-year-old physics student whose father runs an investment management firm is expected to step into the shoes of someone who put up $ 28 million in an auction to participate in the theft Inaugural Space Tourism for Billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Company.

Blue Origin announced Thursday that Oliver Daemen will join the all-civilian crew of four for the scheduled flight on Tuesday after the auction winner, whose name had not been made public, withdrew due to Unspecified “programming conflicts”. Daemen becomes the company’s first paying customer.

Her addition means the flight is expected to include the oldest person to ever be in space – 82-year-old pioneer aviator Wally Funk – and the youngest, Daemen, according to Blue Origin. Bezos and his brother Mark Bezos will join them for the suborbital launch of Blue Origin.

Daemen is working to earn his pilot’s license and is expected to attend Utrecht University in the Netherlands to study physics and innovation management in September, Blue Origin said. His father is the CEO and founder of Somerset Capital Partners, Joes Daemen.

An interior view of the Blue Origin Crew capsule mockup at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States, April 5, 2017. REUTERS / Isaiah J. Downing / File Photo

The elder Daemen “paid for the seat and chose to pilot Oliver,” Blue Origin said. The company declined to say how much was paid.

“Flying on New Shepard will fulfill a lifelong dream for Oliver, who has been fascinated by space, the Moon and rockets since the age of four,” the company said in a press release.

Bezos is in a race with billionaire rivals Richard Branson and Elon Musk as they seek to usher in a new era of commercial space travel in a tourism market that Swiss bank UBS says could be worth $ 3 billion a year in a decade.

New Shepard is an 18.3-meter-tall, fully self-contained rocket-capsule combo that cannot be flown from inside the spacecraft. The launch is scheduled for a site in West Texas.

Branson, the billionaire British businessman, was aboard his company Virgin Galactic’s rocket plane on Sunday for his pioneering suborbital flight from New Mexico. Read more

Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Will Dunham

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