Oliver Daemen: Meet the 18-Year-Old Who Is Going to Space

oliver daemen

Blue Origin Oliver Daemen, 18, will be the youngest person to travel to space.

Oliver Daemen was a last-minute addition to the Blue Origin crew. The 18-year-old will make history as the youngest person to travel to space on the New Shepard July 20, 2021. Daemon was added to the crew in an announcement just days before the launch.

Blue Origin, the company founded by the one of the world’s richest men, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in 2000, has been testing flights of its New Shepard rocket for years, according to CNBC. The space flight scheduled for 9 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday, July 20, 2021, will be its first manned flight.

You can watch the livestream of the flight at beginning at 7:30 a.m. Eastern time at BlueOrigin.com. While liftoff is expected at 9 a.m. Eastern time, that could change based on weather or technological difficulties, Space.com noted.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Daemen Took the Place of an Anonymous Auction Winner Who Backed Out of the Flight Due to Scheduling Conflicts

Daemen filled an empty seat on the historic flight. An anonymous person bid $28 million for the last seat on the flight in a public auction in June. However, the person later said that “due to scheduling conflicts” they would instead take a seat on a later launch, according to a Blue Origin press statement.

Blue Origin also said that the auction gift allowed its Club for the Future foundation to donate $19 million to non-profit organizations “which are working to support the future of living and working in space,” the press statement said.

“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,” Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin, said in the statement. “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.”

2. Daemen’s Father, Joes Daemen, Is the CEO of a Private Equity Firm in the Netherlands

A Blue Origin CEO told CNBC that Daemen’s dad, Joes Daemen, “had secured a seat on the second flight,” and that when the anonymous bidder withdrew, Blue Origin “moved him up,” giving Daemen a chance to fly.

Joes Daemen is the CEO and founder of Somerset Capital Partners, according to his biography on the company website. He founded his own hedge fund and invests in real estate, private equity and financial markets, his bio says.

His bio says:

Joes Daemen is CEO and Founder of Somerset Capital Partners. He studied at the University of Wageningen were [sic] he obtained his Master of Science in Agriculture Economics and Marketing. Shortly after graduating Joes started as a broker on the financial markets. After selling his former company he focused on private equity as well as real estate development and investments, with a focus on logistics real estate. In 2009, Joes launched his own hedge fund, Somerset Capital Partners Value Fund. Under the name of Somerset Capital Partners, Joes has combined his activities as an investor in real estate, private equity and financial markets.

3. Oliver Daemen Will Be the Youngest Person to Fly to Space

Blue Origin announced that Daemen will be the youngest person to ever fly to space.

“Today, Blue Origin announced Oliver Daemen will be the first paying customer to fly on board New Shepard, marking the beginning of commercial operations for the program,” Blue Origin said in a press statement July 15, 2021. “He will join Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, and Wally Funk aboard the first human flight on July 20. At 18-years-old and 82-years-young, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk represent the youngest and oldest astronauts to travel to space.”

4. Oliver Daemen Has Been ‘Fascinated By Space’ Since He Was a Young Boy

The Blue Origin press statement described space travel as the fulfillment of “a lifelong dream” for Daemen. The statement said “he has been fascinated by space, the Moon, and rockets since he was four.”

New Shepard is designed to launch its crew into suborbital space for about three minutes, the news outlet reported. The flight is expected to take about 11 minutes.

“It is about 60 feet (18 meters) tall and is designed to shoot passengers into suborbital space for a ‘weightless’ phase of about three minutes,” Space.com reported.

The rocket’s name gives a nod to the early days of space travel. It was named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, who was the first American to go to space in 1962, according to Space.com.

5. Daemen Took a Gap Year to Obtain His Private Pilot’s License & Plans to Study Physics in College

The young space traveler graduated from high school in 2020 before taking a gap year to obtain his private pilot’s license, according to Blue Origin.

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

The Blue Origin crew will cross into space for about three minutes, Space.com reported. Before the manned flight, the rocket has performed 15 test flights without a crew. The most recent flight was on April 14. At that time, Blue Origin announced the manned flight, according to Space.com.

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