Oliver Daemen. COURTESY PHOTO, Blue Origin

Oliver Daemen. COURTESY PHOTO, Blue Origin

Kent-based Blue Origin announces seat winner on flight to space

18-year-old student from the Netherlands gets first paying seat after high bidder reschedules

An 18-year-old student from the Netherlands will be part of the crew on board Kent-based Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch to space on July 20.

The winner of Blue Origin’s auction for a seat on the company’s first human flight into space, who bid $28 million, has asked to remain anonymous at this time, and has chosen to fly on a future New Shepard mission due to scheduling conflicts, according to Blue Origin.

Oliver Daemen, of the Netherlands, will be the first paying customer. He will join Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos (the brother of Jeff Bezos) and Wally Funk, 82, whose journey to space began in the 1960s when she was the youngest graduate of the Woman in Space Program, a privately funded project which tested female pilots for astronaut fitness.

Blue Origin said Daemen will be the youngest person to fly into space and Funk the oldest.

“We thank the auction winner for their generous support of Club for the Future and are honored to welcome Oliver to fly with us on New Shepard,” said Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin. “This marks the beginning of commercial operations for New Shepard, and Oliver represents a new generation of people who will help us build a road to space.”

Club for the Future announced this week the auction gift has enabled Blue Origin to donate $1 million to 19 nonprofit organizations ($19 million in total), all of which are working to support the future of living and working in space.

Flying on New Shepard will fulfill a lifelong dream for Daemen, who has been fascinated by space, the Moon, and rockets since he was 4, according to Blue Origin. He graduated from high school in 2020 and took a gap year before continuing his studies to obtain his private pilot’s license. This September, he will attend the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands to study physics and innovation management.

Blue Origin has not yet responded to a Kent Reporter email about how Daemen became the next person up for the seat.

According to GeekWire.com, a Blue Origin spokesperson told them that Daemen was a participant in the flight seat auction in June. Blue Origin then followed up and arranged for Daemen to go on the second New Shepard flight. The company moved up his reservation when the seat on the first flight opened up.

GeekWire also reported that Oliver Daemen is the son of Joes Daemen, the founder and CEO of a Dutch investment firm called Somerset Capital Partners. A Blue Origin spokesperson told GeekWire that Joes Daemen played a role in last month’s bidding.

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