18-Year-Old to Fly on Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin Rocket Will Be the Youngest Person to Travel to Space

Oliver Daemen, 18, will be the youngest person to travel to space after Blue Origins' first human flight on July 20

Oliver Daemen
Photo: Oliver Daemen/blue origin

Jeff Bezos' aerospace company Blue Origins has announced its history-making first paying customer.

Oliver Daemen, 18, will be the youngest person to travel to space after Blue Origins' first human flight on July 20. He will join Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, and pilot Wally Funk aboard the New Shepard rocket.

"I am super excited to be going to space," the teenager said in a video posted by Dutch news service Bright. "I've been dreaming about this all my life."

Daemen's father Joes Daemen, CEO of Dutch private equity firm Somerset Capital Partners, paid for the seat but chose to send his son instead, CNBC reported. The price of the seat has not been disclosed.

The teen takes the place of an anonymous auction winner who was supposed to join the Bezos brothers on their first space flight, but had to opt for a future flight instead due to scheduling conflicts, Blue Origins said in a press release.

Daemen isn't the only one setting a record with the space flight. Funk, 82, will also make history as the oldest person to travel to space — a record currently held by astronaut John Glenn, who was sent into orbit for the last time at age 77 in 1998, per NASA.

Funk is a member of what is known as Mercury 13, a group of women who tested to become astronauts in the 1960s, before their program was later canceled, according to The Washington Post.

"No one has waited longer," Bezos said in a social media post revealing that Funk will be his "honored guest" come July 20.

In a video shared by Bezos, 57, Funk explained that she's been "flying forever," and has 19,600 flying hours under her belt.

"I have taught over 3,000 people to fly — private, commercial, instrument, flight engineer, airline transport, gliding — everything that the FAA has, I've got the license for," she said in the Instagram clip, adding with a laugh, "And I can outrun you."

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Funk said in Bezos' clip that during her time in the Mercury 13 program, she'd been told that she "had done better and completed the work faster than any of the guys."

But still, her ultimate dream of traveling to space eluded her.

"I got a hold of NASA four times. I said, 'I want to become an astronaut.' But nobody would take me," she said. "I didn't think that I would ever get to go up."

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According to the official website, the New Shepard is "fully autonomous," as there is no pilot and everyone is a passenger. The reusable vehicle takes 11-minute flights into space, "designed to take astronauts and research payloads past the Kármán line — the internationally recognized boundary of space."

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