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Dutch teenager to fly on New Shepard

WASHINGTON — An 18-year-old Dutch man will fly on Blue Origin’s first crewed New Shepard suborbital flight, taking the place of the unidentified winner of an auction last month for the seat.

Blue Origin announced July 15 that Oliver Daemen will be the fourth and final member of the crew of the New Shepard flight launching July 20 from the company’s West Texas spaceport. Daemen will join Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, and Wally Funk on the 10-minute suborbital flight.

Oliver Daeman is the son of Joes Daeman, the chief executive and founder and Somerset Capital Partners. He was one of the bidders in the June 12 auction for the seat on the flight but did not make the high bid.

Blue Origin said the person who made the winning $28 million bid, who remains anonymous, “has chosen to fly on a future New Shepard mission due to scheduling conflicts.” The company did not elaborate on those scheduling conflicts, but Blue Origin stated the flight would take place on July 20 when it announced its plans, and started the auction process, May 5.

A Blue Origin spokesperson confirmed that Daeman “had secured a seat on the second flight” of New Shepard and that the company “moved him up when this seat on the first flight became available.”

Blue Origin had not previously disclosed it had sold any tickets beyond the seat auctioned in June. At the time of the auction, though, a company executive said Blue Origin would reach out to other auction participants about buying seats on future flights.

“We will also find additional astronauts who will fly on our other upcoming early missions,” Ariane Cornell, director of astronaut and orbital sales at Blue Origin, said at the June 12 auction. “Following the auction, we are going to contact the most competitive bidders from today to offer them access to those early flights.”

A company spokesperson declined to say how many additional seats it had sold, or what price Daeman or any other customers paid.

Blue Origin described Daeman as a man with an interest in space that dates back to the age of four — or approximately 2007, several years after Bezos founded Blue Origin. Daeman is taking a gap year before starting studies at the University of Utrecht.

“I am super excited to go to space,” he said in a video posted by the Dutch publication Bright. “I’ve been dreaming about this all my life and I will become the youngest astronaut because I’m 18 years old.”

At 18, Daeman will break the record for youngest person in space. Gherman Titov was 25 years and nearly 11 months old when he became the second man in space on the Vostok 2 orbital mission in August 1961.

Funk, meanwhile, will set the record for the oldest person in space on the same flight. At 82 years old, she will break the record set by John Glenn, who was 77 when we went to space for a second time on the STS-95 shuttle mission in 1998.

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