Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin set to go to space with an 18-year-old aboard

Barely over a week since Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson and his team flew to the edge of space in the VSS Unity, billionaire Jeff Bezos is set to fly to space in his own rocket.

In an Instagram post announcing the spaceflight, Bezos mentioned how it has always been his dream to fly to space – a dream he has had since childhood. He explained how excited he was to go on the “greatest adventure” with his brother.

“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of traveling to space,” he wrote. “Only July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.” 

The spaceflight, for months, was scheduled for July 20 in a rocket and capsule built by Blue Origin, Bezos’ privately founded space company. Tuesday’s flight will be the company’s first crewed spaceflight for Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket. If the flight is successful, Bezos and his team will make history as one of the first civilian crew to fly to the edge of space.

The New Shepard rocket will launch from a station in the West Texas desert, southeast of El Paso. The flight is a suborbital flight which means the capsule will not launch into orbit around the earth but will reach only the edge of space at an altitude of 65 miles. The passengers will experience few minutes of weightlessness before the capsule descends under parachutes to land in the Texas desert. The whole journey, back-and-forth is expected to last about 10 minutes.

Bezos will not be going to space alone. 82-year-old Wally Funk, a former test pilot who was one of the “Mercury 13” women will be on board; Bezos’s brother Mark Bezos; and 18-year-old Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen. This trip will set the record of flying the oldest person and youngest person to space.

The 18-year-old will set the record as the youngest person to fly to space. Although he had secured a seat on the second flight, he was moved to the first flight after an opening came up. The mystery bidder who secured a seat on the first flight along Bezos who was reported to have put up $28 million wouldn’t be able to make the trip due to “scheduling conflicts”, a Blue Origin spokesperson told CNN Business.

“Daemen was a participant in the auction and had secured a seat on the second flight. We moved him up when this seat on the first flight became available,” the spokesperson said. “We’re not disclosing how much he paid.”

Sources familiar with the matter said Daemen’s seat was purchased for him by his father Joes Daemen, founder and CEO of Somerset Capital Partners, an investment firm in the Netherlands. 

The success of Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic space travels will officially launch the commercial space travel industry. Tuesday’s flight is important for Blue Origin because it will be a step further into the market of high-priced commercial rides to space. The company is hoping to officially open its doors for business in the nearest future.

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