by Eric M. Johnson
(Reuters) – An 18-year-old physics student whose father runs an investment management company is expected to take over from a person who gave $28 million in an auction to participate in the billionaire’s Blue Origin company’s inaugural space tourism flight Jeff Bezos.
Blue Origin said on Thursday that Oliver Daemen will join the crew of four civilians on the flight scheduled for Tuesday because the winner of the auction, whose name was not made public, withdrew due to “conflicting commitments.” Daemen becomes the company’s first commercial customer.
With its inclusion, the flight must have the youngest person to go into space and also the oldest – in this case Wally Funk, a pioneer aviator now 82 years old, according to Blue Origin. Brothers Jeff and Mark Bezos will accompany them on the suborbital launch.
Daemen is working to get his pilot’s license and is due to go to Utrecht University in the Netherlands to study physics and innovation management in September, Blue Origin reported. He is the son of Joes Daemen, CEO and founder of Somerset Capital Partners.
Daemen Sr. “paid for the seat and chose to send Oliver,” Blue Origin said, not wanting to report how much was disbursed.
Bezos is embroiled in a race with billionaire rivals Richard Branson and Elon Musk, who aim to usher in a new era of commercial spaceflight in a tourist market that Swiss bank UBS estimates could be worth $3 billion annually in a decade.
(By Eric M. Johnson in Seattle)
+ Learn about the effectiveness of each vaccine against Covid-19