Jeff Bezos Selects 18-Year-Old Dutch Student for Blue Origin Rocket


“This is a dream come true!” Mr. Daemen said in a news release from the family. “I never really trusted it until I got an amazing phone call from Blue Origin last week. This is incredibly cool! It only takes 10 minutes to go to and fly into space, but I already know that these will be the most special 10 minutes of my life.”

Blue Origin’s spacecraft New Shepard is designed for short space-tourist flights, similar to Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. However, unlike Virgin Galactic’s spaceplane design, the New Shepard is more of a conventional rocket launched vertically. Near the top of the arc, the six-person pod separates from the booster. The booster and capsule are chopped to a height of over 62 miles, considered by many to be the limit of space. The descent of the capsule is slowed by a parachute.

There will be four people on this first flight: Mr. Daemen; Mr. Bezos; Mr. Bezos’ brother Mark; and Mary Wallace Funk, a pilot who was among a group of women who passed the same stringent criteria NASA used to select astronauts in the 1960s. But this was at a time when the space agency was not interested in selecting women as astronauts.

Mr. Daemen will be the youngest person to go into space at the age of 18. At 82, Miss Funk passing by Wally will be the oldest.

According to the family’s press release, Mr Daemen and his father, Joes Daemen, founder of Somerset Capital Partners in the Netherlands, wondered about the possibility of getting on the plane. “But when bids started to skyrocket during the auction, we gave up,” said Joes Daemen.

Blue Origin did not disclose how much Daemen paid for the seat; It has not yet announced a public ticket price. According to Daemens, the price is much lower than the $28 million winning bid. The money they pay will be donated by Blue Origin to an as yet unidentified charity.

On Wednesday, Blue Origin announced that $19 million from the $28 million winning bid will go to 19 space-related nonprofits, $1 million each. Among the awardees are AstraFemina, a women’s collective that aims to be a role model for girls in science and engineering; the Brook Owens Scholarship, which offers paid internships and fellowships to licensed women; and Higher Orbits, an experimental learning lab for High School students.

Kitty Bennett contributed to the research and Claire Moses contributed to the translation.


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