Its a lucky dip for an 18-year-old physics student as he is set to take the place of a person who put up $28 million in an auction to take part in the inaugural space tourism flight for Amazon owner, Jeff Bezos.
The billionaire’s Blue Origin company announced on Thursday Oliver Daemen will join the four-member all-civilian crew for a scheduled flight on Tuesday after the auction winner, whose name had not been made public, dropped out due to unspecified “scheduling conflicts.” Daemen becomes the company’s first paying customer.
The flight will now most certainly include the oldest person ever to go to space – 82-year-old female aviator Wally Funk – and the youngest, Daemen, according to Blue Origin. Jeff Bezos brother, Mark Bezos will also join Blue Origin’s suborbital launch.
Daemen is working to obtain his pilot’s license and is set to attend the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands to study physics and innovation management in September, Blue Origin said. His father is Somerset Capital Partners CEO and founder Joes Daemen.
It is the battle for space from billionaire rivals Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk as they seek to usher in a new dispensation of commercial space travel for tourism which could be worth $3 billion annually in less than a decade according to Swiss Bank UBS estimates.
New Shepard is a 60-foot-tall (18.3-meters-tall) and fully autonomous rocket-and-capsule combo that cannot be piloted from inside the spacecraft. The launch is set for a site in West Texas.