Blue Origin has disclosed the identity of the first paying client who will travel to the edge of space on its New Shepard capsule, which will launch on Tuesday, July 20. And it may not be the person you expect.
The anonymous capitalist (or inheritance beneficiary) will no longer be able to join the maiden voyage. Blue Origin cited "scheduling conflicts" as the reason for the cancellation. Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old physics student who would set the record for the youngest person in space, will be the fourth passenger in that person's place.
Who Is Oliver Daemen
Daemen is the son of Somerset Capital Partners CEO Joes Daemen, who paid an undisclosed fee for a seat on the second crewed flight. He is a physics student on a gap year before college who also holds a private pilot license. Daemen did not pay for his son's ticket, according to the company.
"We moved [Daemen] up when this seat on the first flight became available," Blue Origin told CNBC.
The unnamed wealthy individual who is too busy to ride with Bezos will instead fly "on a future New Shepard trip," according to Blue Origin, which has the added benefit of avoiding any unforeseen threats that may arise during the initial flight.
Reports said quantifying the possible risks to passengers is challenging, and suborbital trips are generally safer. However, a report released earlier this year by Aerospace.org said roughly 1% of all US human spaceflights have resulted in a deadly mishap.
"That's pretty high. It's about 10,000 times more dangerous than flying on a commercial airliner," former Federal Aviation Administration associate administrator and report co-author George Nield told Business Insider. "... [Bezos] obviously has made the decision that having millions of people living and working in space is something that he strongly believes in, and he wants to do his part to help make that happen in some small way."
About New Shepard Rocket Launch
The New Shepard rocket is a reusable spacecraft capable of transporting up to six passengers into suborbital space. It has successfully launched 15 times, including three test flights, to ensure that the crew escape system is operational. Onboard computers operate the rocket, which eliminates the need for a human pilot.
On July 20, four persons will be aboard the first crewed launch: Jeff Bezos, the founder of Blue Origin and former CEO of Amazon; his brother, Mark Bezos, Daemen; and Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pioneering female aviator. Funk was one of 13 women who graduated from the private Women in the Space program in the 1960s, putting female pilots through the same rigorous training as astronauts. However, NASA never considered sending these women to space, and Funk went on to work as a Federal Aviation Administration inspector and a National Transportation Safety Board air safety investigator, breaking barriers in the process.
Blue Origin will create records for both the oldest and youngest humans in space by choosing Funk and Daemen as passengers. Funk will surpass astronaut John Glenn, who flew aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1998 at 77. Daemen will beat Gherman Titov, a Russian cosmonaut who orbited the Earth at 25 in 1961.
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