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Blue Origin rocket launch will include youngest person to travel to space

Blue Origin is making final preparations to send its owner, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and three others on a rocket ride to the edge of space on Tuesday, July 20.

The other crew members will include Bezos’ brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk who at 82 will become the oldest person to visit space, and, announced on Thursday, Oliver Daemen who at 18 will become the youngest person to travel to space as well as Blue Origin’s first paying customer.

According to Blue Origin, the Dutchman, who graduated from high school in 2020 and recently obtained a private pilot’s license, has been fascinated by “space, the moon, and rockets” since he was four, and following his flight will attend university to study physics and innovation management.

Welcome to the crew, Oliver! We’re grateful to have you as our first customer to mark the beginning of commercial operations. #NSFirstHumanFlight

— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) July 15, 2021

Daemen bagged a seat on the rocket flight after the person who made the winning $28 million bid for the seat in a recent auction decided to take a later flight due to a scheduling conflict.

Some media reports have suggested that Oliver’s father, Joes Daemen, had a seat on the next Blue Origin flight but gave it to his son after the seat on next week’s launch became available.

Tuesday’s flight will be the first crewed launch of Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard rocket, and its 16th launch overall. The mission is designed to act as a test run for the company’s upcoming space tourism service for suborbital trips to the edge of space. And with Bezos on board, along with the youngest and oldest people ever to travel to space, it should also help to drum up some publicity for the service.

Trip of a lifetime

The 10-minute trip of a lifetime will start at Blue Origin’s base in West Texas, with the four crew members heading skyward inside a capsule atop the single-stage New Shepard rocket. A short while later, the capsule will separate from the rocket and head to the Kármán line, a spot 62 miles above Earth that’s widely accepted as marking the start of space. The crew will then be able to leave their seats and enjoy several minutes of weightlessness while marveling at spectacular views of Earth. They’ll then return to their seats for a parachute-assisted landing close to the launch site.

Digital Trends has all you need to know to watch the livestream of the event.

Rival space tourism service

Blue Origin’s mission will take place just over a week after Richard Branson — another billionaire with his own spaceflight company — flew aboard Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spaceplane in its first fully crewed suborbital flight to just short of the Kármán line.

Branson announced the date for his flight after Blue Origin revealed the schedule for its own mission, leading many to claim the British businessman was rushing ahead merely to gain bragging rights over Bezos.

The two companies are set to compete for customers for their respective space tourism services. Virgin Galactic is already taking bookings for a commercial service that could start as early as next year, with customers charged $250,000 for a seat. Blue Origin hasn’t announced seat prices yet, though it’s thought the company’s fee will be similar to that of its rival.

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Trevor Mogg
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