Teen Chosen to Fly Into Space With Bezos  

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Oliver Daemen, 18, received exciting news Thursday from the Blue Origin flight team: He will be flying into space on July 20.

Daemen, who will attend Utrecht University in the Netherlands this fall, will be the youngest person to reach space when he departs on Blue Origin’s New Shepard flight. A press release from his family said that Daemen has “been dreaming about this all [his] life.”

Blue Origin announced Thursday that an originally scheduled passenger would be unable to take the flight to the edge of space because of scheduling conflicts. The anonymous winner of the company’s public auction spent $28 million for the seat next to Bezos. Until then, Daemen was scheduled to travel on Blue Origin’s second flight after unsuccessfully bidding on the auction.

Daemen’s father, Joes Daemen, is the CEO of an investment firm in the Netherlands, and Blue Origin declined to disclose what he paid for the flight. The person who purchased the $28 million ticket remains anonymous.

Donations to nonprofits

The company stated that $19 million of the auction’s proceeds would be donated to 19 space-specific nonprofit organizations, each receiving $1 million. The chosen associations include AstraFemina, a group of women in science and technology dedicated to providing young girls with role models, and the Brook Owens Fellowship, a mentorship program for undergraduate female students interested in space exploration.

In this 2019 photo made available by NASA, Mercury 13 astronaut trainee Wally Funk visits the Glenn Research Center at Lewis…
FILE - In this 2019 photo made available by NASA, Mercury 13 astronaut trainee Wally Funk visits the Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio.

Also making history is Mary Wallace "Wally" Funk, 82, who will become the oldest person to fly into space. Bezos announced on Instagram that Funk would be an “honored guest” for the first Blue Origin flight.

Funk participated in the privately funded Mercury 13 program in 1961 that trained women to go to space. The 13 women received the same preparation as NASA astronauts but were ultimately refused employment because of their gender. Funk was the youngest to graduate from the course and reportedly was told that she “completed the work faster than any of the guys.”

The three passengers will be joined by Bezos’ brother, Mark, on Blue Origin’s inaugural flight.

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