After $28 Million Winner Drops Out, Blue Origin’s First Paying Customer, Oliver Daemon, Will Be Youngest Person Ever In Space
Blue Origin’s anonymous auction winner, who paid over $28 million to be a passenger on New Shepherd’s next test ride, has decided to stay on earth, for the time being.
The winner had to give up their seat due to “scheduling conflicts,” but will still make it to space on a future ride. Wasting no time, Jeff Bezos has already chosen a replacement, one of the runner-ups in the auction who will break records following New Shepard’s takeoff.
Oliver Daemon is not only Blue Origin’s first paying customer, but he will also be the youngest person in space at 18-years-old, setting a trend for commercial spaceflight. Fellow passenger and member of the Mercury 13, Wally Funk, will similarly become the oldest person in space when New Shepard passes the Kármán line.
Daemon previously participated in the auction with 7,600 others and had secured a seat on the spacecraft’s second flight. The Dutch student and son of the chief executive of a private equity investment firm graduated high school last year and is taking a year off before attending Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
Blue Origin spokeswoman, Sara Blask, addressed the decision to choose Daemon as the replacement in an email. “He was a participant in the auction and had secured a seat on the second flight,” she said. “We moved him up when this seat on the first flight became available.”
The teenager, for his part, seems ecstatic about taking off alongside Bezos, his brother Mark and Wally Funk.
In a news release from his family, Daemon said, “This is a dream come true! I hadn’t counted on this at all until last week that surprising phone call from Blue Origin came. This is so unbelievably cool! The flight to and into space only takes 10 minutes, but I already know that these will be the most special 10 minutes of my life.”
It is currently unclear how much Daemon’s family paid for the ticket, but it is reportedly much less than the $28 million bid. The soon-to-be commercial astronaut and his father initially participated in the auction, intrigued by the idea of flying to space, but dropped out when prices started to skyrocket.
Blue Origin announced earlier this week that $19 million of the $28 million will go toward 19 aerospace-related non-profits, $1 million each.
While Blue Origin’s first real takeoff, which is scheduled for July 20, the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, is highly anticipated, it is not the first aerospace company to make the journey. Branson’s Virgin Galactic took off about a week ago, much to the Amazon founder’s chagrin. However, while the manned shuttle crossed NASA’s defined space barrier, about 50 miles above the Earth, it did not pass the Kármán line, the internationally-recognized atmospheric border.
Blue Origin claims that its trip above the higher of the two completely arbitrary and disputed space barriers will be the true “first” commercial spaceflight.