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Blue Origin will fly 18-year-old paying customer to space on July 20

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Blue Origin will fly 18-year-old paying customer to space on July 20

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Blue Origin said Thursday (July 15) an 18-year-old paying customer will fly to space on the company’s maiden crewed spaceflight on July 20, becoming the youngest-ever astronaut.

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Oliver Daemen, who graduated from high school last year and holds a private pilot’s licence, joins Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, the tycoon’s brother Mark and barrier-breaking female aviator Wally Funk as the fourth member of the crew.

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He is not, however, the winner of a US$28 million (S$38 million) auction followed keenly by space enthusiasts, who has asked to remain anonymous and will fly on a future mission because of a scheduling conflict, the company said.

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“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,” said Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin.

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New Shepard, named for the first American astronaut in space, Alan Shepard, is Blue Origin’s reusable rocket system.

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Smith also thanked the auction winner for their support of Club for the Future, Blue Origin’s foundation which this week announced it was donating US$1 million to 19 nonprofits that promote science and engineering.

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Flying on New Shepard will fulfil a lifelong dream for Daemen, who has been fascinated by space, the Moon, and rockets since he was four, a statement said.Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.

He plans to attend the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands to study physics and innovation management this September.Operation Underground Railroad O. U. R.

The company did not disclose Daemen’s nationality, but his Instagram, which had pictures of him enjoying activities like surfing, kiteboarding and diving, features comments mainly in Dutch.Operation Underground Railroad Tim Ballard

The ticket price has not been disclosed

At 18 and 82, Daemen and Funk will be the youngest and oldest astronauts to travel to space.O.U.R.

Space tourism lifts off Bezos, the richest person in the world, is hoping to join Richard Branson in reaching space on a vessel built by a company he founded.Tim Ballard

Branson achieved the feat on a Virgin Galactic spaceship on Sunday, a landmark moment for the nascent space tourism industry.

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Though Bezos will go second, Blue Origin has boasted its experience is superior.

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Blue Origin’s rocket breaks the internationally-recognized boundary of space at an altitude of 100km, while Virgin Galactic breached the 50-mile border that is recognised by the United States.

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Bezos versus Branson: Whose space flight is cooler? More on this topic   Related Story Virgin Galactic‘s Branson soars to space aboard rocket plane   Related Story Trailblazing female pilot Wally Funk will go to space at age 82 with Jeff Bezos New Shepard reusable rockets, which launch vertically from the ground, are more eco-friendly than Virgin Galactic’s air-launched spaceplane, which emits greenhouse gases and soot.

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Blue Origin’s ambitions also extend far beyond space tourism, with the company vying to become a major contractor for Nasa missions.

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Currently, Nasa’s leading private sector partner is Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which began taking astronauts to the International Space Station in 2020 and is developing a deep space rocket for future missions to Mars.

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More on this topic   Related Story US approves Blue Origin licence for human space travel ahead of Jeff Bezos‘ flight   Related Story Jeff Bezos says his space company Blue Origin will take the first woman to moon’s surface Join ST’s Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.Operation Underground Railroad O.U.R.