Jeff Bezos’s guests describe a short, crowded spaceflight experience: ‘There was not quite enough room’

jeff bezos and three other passengers in jumpsuits float around spaceship cabin earth in background
A screengrab from video recorded inside the New Shepard capsule shows (left to right) Oliver Daemen, Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, and Wally Funk in microgravity.

Blue Origin rocketed its first passengers to the edge of space on Tuesday morning. Roughly 10 minutes later, the crew returned to the West Texas desert after spending just three minutes in zero gravity.

“I loved every minute of it,” Wally Funk, an 82-year-old aviator, said in a ceremony after the flight. “I just wish it had been longer.”

Billionaire Jeff Bezos, who founded Blue Origin in 2000, invited Funk and his brother, Mark, to accompany him on the flight. Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, joined them. His father had purchased the final seat on the flight after an auction winner backed out.

Back on land, the passengers beamed and gave hugs all around. They popped champagne at their landing site. But some of the guests’ reviews of the flight came with caveats.

“We went right on up and I saw darkness,” Funk, now the oldest person to ever travel to space, said. “I thought I was going to see the world, but we weren’t quite high enough.”

Indeed, during the livestream Funk could be heard saying, “It’s dark up here.”

wally funk exits new shepard capsule after landing
Wally Funk emerges from the New Shepard capsule, July 20, 2021.

Once they unbuckled, the passengers could see Earth out the spaceship windows. But it wasn’t the blue marble one might witness from the moon, nor was it the same curving horizon that professional astronauts see from the International Space Station. (The station is about four times higher than the altitude Bezos and his companions reached on Tuesday.)

During the post-flight ceremony, Blue Origin shared the below video footage from inside the spaceship. In the background, you can clearly see clouds, the edge of Earth’s atmosphere, and the blackness of space beyond it.

Lauren Sanchez, Jeff Bezos’ family, and a former NFL player were among the crowd that welcomed the flight crew back to Earth – see who else was there

New Shepard First Human Flight
Jeff Bezos hugs his mom, Jackie, after his spaceflight.

  • A swarm of well-wishers showed up for hugs and champagne after Jeff Bezos’ spacecraft landed.
  • The group included his parents, Mike and Jackie, and his son, Preston.
  • Bezos’ girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, and former NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez, were there too.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On Tuesday morning, Jeff Bezos and his fellow passengers floated down to the West Texas desert after a successful flight to the edge of space.

The voyage, which took mere minutes, was the first human spaceflight for Blue Origin, the space exploration company Bezos founded in 2000. After the capsule touched down shortly after 9 a.m., Blue Origin employees rushed to ensure all passengers were safe and ground the spacecraft, which carried a static charge from its trip skyward. Then, they released the door, allowing Bezos, his brother, Mark, 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, and 82-year-old Wally Funk to disembark.

They were quickly swarmed by family members, friends, and Blue Origin employees – unsurprisingly, hugs and champagne showers ensued.

Here’s who we spotted among the crowd of well-wishers.

Jeff Bezos’ mother, Jackie, was the first to hug him after he exited the capsule.

Jackie Bezos hugs Jeff Bezos after Blue Origin spaceflight

Mike Bezos, the Bezos brothers’ father, squeezed in to hug Mark.

Mike Bezos hugs Mark Bezos after Blue Origin flight

Preston Bezos, Bezos’ eldest son, was in attendance, along with his younger siblings.

Preston Bezos greets Jeff Bezos after Blue Origin spaceflight

Lauren Sanchez, Bezos’ girlfriend, sported a matching cowboy hat and was there to hug Bezos upon landing.

Lauren Sanchez goes to hug Jeff Bezos after Blue Origin flight

Former NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez got a peek inside the capsule. He was previously in a relationship with Sanchez, and the two have a 20-year-old son.

Tony Gonzalez outside capsule after Blue Origin flight

Joes Daemen, the chief executive of a private equity firm, embraced his son, Oliver. The elder Daemen paid for his son’s seat on New Shepard.

Oliver Daemen hugs Joes Daemen after Blue Origin spaceflight
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Jeff Bezos just went to space, and you can too

New Shepard First Human Flight
Jeff Bezos and Wally Funk after a flight to space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard on July 20.

  • Jeff Bezos and three others flew to space Tuesday in his company, Blue Origin’s, first human flight.
  • And you can go to space too – the company said Tuesday that it is “open for ticket sales.”
  • Blue Origin’s first paying customer was Oliver Daemen, one of four astronauts on Tuesday’s flight.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jeff Bezos, the richest person on the planet, just went to space – and you can too, according to the company.

The hosts of the live-streamed space flight said that ticket sales are finally open to the public. They instructed those who are interested to email astronauts@blueorigin.com.

“We can’t wait to fly you to space and back,” Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin’s director of sales, said on the live stream. She said the company has two more flights planned for this year.

Blue Origin has yet to disclose seat prices for commercial flights, and the company did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Tuesday’s flight was one giant step toward the future of commercial space travel and followed Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson’s flight to the edge of space on July 11. The company is currently planning on flying customers starting next year.

Three others joined the billionaire Amazon founder in his 11-minute rocket ride.

One of them was 18-year-old Olivier Daemen, Blue Origin’s first paying customer, won his spot on the flight after the initial winner – who paid $28 million for the ticket – canceled due to “scheduling conflicts.” Daemen’s father, who works at a hedge fund, paid millions at an auction to secure the ticket.

The other two astronauts were Bezos’ brother, Mark, and 82-year-old aviator Wally Funk, who trained as an astronaut in the 1960s and was ultimately denied the chance to go to space. She went on to become the first female Federal Aviation Administration inspector.

Funk set a record as the oldest person to go to space.

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Jeff Bezos says ‘you have a very happy crew up here’ as he returns to Earth after a successful flight to the edge of space

Jeff Bezos high fives Blue Origin employee after New Shepard spaceflight
Jeff Bezos high fives a Blue Origin employee as he disembarks after a successful space flight.

  • Jeff Bezos successfully flew to the edge of space and back on Tuesday.
  • Bezos was joined by his brother Mark, 82-year-old Wally Funk, and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen.
  • “You have a very happy crew up here,” Bezos said as the crew floated back toward Earth.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jeff Bezos and his fellow passengers have successfully ventured to the edge of space and back.

The Amazon and Blue Origin founder flew on the space exploration company’s first human spaceflight on Tuesday, blasting off shortly after 9 a.m. ET.

The crew, which included Bezos’ brother, Mark, 82-year-old pilot Wally Funk, and Dutch teen Oliver Daemen, flew just above the border between Earth and space and experienced weightlessness for about three minutes before safely touching back down in the West Texas desert.

Read more: As Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson blast off, here are 11 of the most exciting space startups according to VCs

As the capsule floated back toward Earth with an assist from three parachutes, Bezos informed Blue Origin mission control that everyone was safe and sound – and elated.

“You have a very happy crew up here,” Bezos said, adding a few minutes later: “Best day ever. That was incredible.”

When asked how he was doing, Mark Bezos responded: “I am unbelievably good.”

Upon landing, the crew disembarked and was greeted by a swarm of family and friends, including the Bezos brothers’ parents, Jackie and Mike; Jeff Bezos’ girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez; his son, Preston; and Blue Origin employees. After many excited hugs and high fives, the crew celebrated with – what else – champagne showers.

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Watch live as Jeff Bezos launches to the edge of space on Blue Origin’s first passenger flight

Jeff Bezos is seen speaking beside a photo of Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket lifting off.
Jeff Bezos is set to launch aboard the New Shepard rocket on July 20.

Jeff Bezos, the richest person on Earth, is about to fly to the edge of space.

The billionaire founder of Amazon and Blue Origin is riding a New Shepard rocket up to the Kármán line – an imaginary boundary 62 miles (100 kilometers) above sea level, where many experts say space begins.

There, he’s expected to experience weightlessness and stunning views of Earth for about three minutes.

The rocket is scheduled to lift off from Blue Origin’s launch site in Texas at around 8 a.m. CT (9 a.m. ET) on Tuesday. The company is broadcasting the spaceflight live, in the video embedded below, starting at 6:30 a.m. CT (7:30 a.m. ET).

Bezos won’t be flying solo. His brother, Mark, is set to join him, along with an 18-year-old Dutch high school graduate named Oliver Daemen.

Wally Funk, an 82-year-old aviator, is also going. She trained to go to space in the 1960s but was ultimately denied the opportunity because she was a woman.

New Shepard has flown successfully 15 times, but never with people on board. This is its first passenger flight.

Blue Origin said there won’t be any “public viewing areas” in the vicinity of the launch site.

“I am so excited. I can’t wait to see what it’s going to be like,” Bezos told NBC’s “Today” on Monday.

“People who say they go into space, that they come back changed. Astronauts always talk about that – whether it’s the thin limit of the Earth’s atmosphere or seeing how fragile the planet is, that it’s just one planet. So I can’t wait to see what it’s going to do to me.”

How Jeff Bezos and his companions aim to fly to the edge of space

blue origin new shepard
Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin employees celebrate the New Shepard rocket booster’s first landing.

If all goes according to plan, the New Shepard rocket will fire its engines to heave itself off the launchpad.

As Bezos and his guests scream through the atmosphere, the force of the climb and the pull of Earth’s gravity – which should feel three times stronger than normal – are expected to pin them to their seats.

new shepard space capsule interior blue origin 03
A sneak peek at the final design of Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule for suborbital space tourists.

After three minutes, the rocket booster should fall away from the capsule that holds the passengers. That capsule should continue arcing above the Earth, and Bezos and his companions should feel weightless.

They’re expected to have three minutes to unbuckle, float around the cabin, and savor the views of the planet curving below.

Then, gravity should pull the spaceship into a high-speed plunge back to Earth. Three parachutes should balloon into the air to break the spaceship’s fall, carrying the capsule to a gentle landing in the Texas desert. A recovery crew should be waiting.

The entire flight should last 11 minutes.

Richard Branson launched to space first, but he didn’t pass the Kármán line

Richard Branson in space aboard a Virgin Galactic rocket plane.
Richard Branson floats in space aboard Virgin Galactic’s rocket plane.

Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Galactic, flew aboard his company’s space plane on Sunday.

Though Branson insisted there’s no competition between him and Bezos, Virgin Galactic changed its launch schedule in a way that sent its billionaire to the edge of space before Bezos.

Blue Origin, for its part, maintains that Branson didn’t actually go to space because he only flew to about 55 miles above sea level.

“They’re not flying above the Kármán line and it’s a very different experience,” Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith told The New York Times after Branson announced his flight.

virgin galactic space plane firing engines flying up
A still image from video shows Virgin Galactic’s rocket plane ascending to the edge of space with Richard Branson and his crew on board on July 11.

Blue Origin went after Virgin Galactic more directly on Twitter two days before Branson’s launch, sharing a graphic comparing the company’s space plane unfavorably to Blue Origin’s rocket.

“From the beginning, New Shepard was designed to fly above the Kármán line so none of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name,” Blue Origin tweeted.

“For 96% of the world’s population, space begins 100 km up at the internationally recognized Kármán line.”

The 4% the tweet refers to is the US. Both NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration have awarded astronaut wings to pilots who flew past 50 miles.

Aylin Woodward contributed reporting.

This post has been updated with new information. It was originally published on July 16, 2021.

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Jeff Bezos is about to take an 11-minute flight to the edge of space. Here’s how his childhood obsession with the cosmos led to Blue Origin’s unprecedented spaceflight.

jeff bezos blue origin blue moon
  • Jeff Bezos will be aboard Blue Origin’s first human spaceflight on July 20.
  • The Amazon and Blue Origin founder has been a space enthusiast since childhood.
  • In 2013, he traveled out to sea for three weeks to retrieve pieces of the Apollo 11 spacecraft.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On July 20, Jeff Bezos will be among the first human passengers to fly aboard New Shepard, a spacecraft built by his space exploration company, Blue Origin.

While it’s an unusual – and potentially risky – experiment, it’s not a very surprising one: Bezos has been obsessed with space since childhood.

“You’ve been passionate about space your whole life, but this is not just a plaything for you,” Mark Bezos said during an interview with his brother in 2017.

“No. God, no,” Bezos replied.

Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 with the goal of democratizing human spaceflight. The company has grown slowly over the years, but in 2015, it completed a remarkable feat, one Bezos will soon attempt: Flying the New Shepard rocket 62 miles above Earth and landing it safely on the ground.

On Tuesday, Bezos will embark on his own 11-minute trip outside of the Earth’s gravitational pull, decades after he first became obsessed with space travel. Here’s where Bezos’ passion for space began.

Bezos’ interest in space stems from his maternal grandfather

The lore around Bezos’ childhood is well-known by this point: Every summer, he would travel to the South Texas ranch belonging to his grandfather, Lawrence Preston Gise.

According to Brad Stone’s book, “Amazon Unbound,” Gise had spent the 1950s and 1960s working on space technology and missile defense systems for the Atomic Energy Commission, a federal agency that was created in 1946 to manage the use of nuclear energy for both civilian and military applications.

Bezos, it seems, developed his passion for space during those summers with his grandfather. There, he would watch Apollo launches and read science fiction books from the library, according to Stone’s book.

Bezos used his high school valedictorian speech to talk about colonizing space

By the time he was in high school in South Florida, Bezos had told his friends that he wanted to be a space entrepreneur, and already had big plans to make space travel a part of his career plans, according to a 1999 Wired profile.

He attended a space initiative for high schoolers at NASA’s campus in Hunstville, Alabama, and later started a summer camp for elementary school students that had a heavy emphasis on science – including interstellar travel and space colonies, according to Wired.

When Bezos became valedictorian of his senior class in 1982, he delivered a speech about overpopulation and pollution. His solution to those existential threats, according to Stone’s book, was to send civilization to space.

″[Bezos] wants to build space hotels, amusement parks, yachts and colonies for two or three million people orbiting around the earth,” a write-up of Bezos’ speech by the Miami Herald said. Then, it said, he would turn around and preserve Earth as one massive, national park.

Bezos has long been obsessed with science fiction about space travel

jeff bezos star trek
Jeff Bezos attends the premiere of “Star Trek Beyond” in 2016.

Bezos’ love of science fiction – particularly “Star Trek” – is evident in many of his business pursuits. During the early days of Amazon, he considered naming the company “MakeItSo.com,” a reference to a line from “Star Trek” character Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

Bezos played the role of an alien in the 2016 film “Star Trek Beyond,” and at Blue Origin’s headquarters in Kent, Washington, there’s a model of the Starship Enterprise, the spaceship in the original “Star Trek” movies, according to Stone’s book.

To top it all off, Amazon’s arguably most popular product was inspired by “Star Trek” too. According to Stone’s book, beginning in the early 2010s, Bezos started talking about wanting to build a computer that worked like a personal assistant and could answer any question – that wish became Amazon’s Echo devices, which are powered by the Alexa smart assistant.

Bezos has traveled to the bottom of the ocean to retrieve pieces of Apollo 11

In 2013, Bezos, his brother, his brother-in-law, and his parents spent three weeks at sea recovering pieces of the engine of the Apollo 11 spacecraft, which took the first humans to the moon.

“We’ve seen an underwater wonderland – an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program,” Bezos wrote of the experience.

After being sent to conservationists, the artifacts were installed at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Bezos stepped aside as Amazon CEO in favor of spending more time working on Blue Origin

Jeff Bezos Blue Origin

When Bezos announced in February that he would step down as CEO of Amazon, he said he planned to spend more time on philanthropy, as well as his two other major endeavors: The Washington Post, which he purchased 2013, and Blue Origin.

But Bezos had hinted years earlier that space travel was rapidly becoming his focus.

“I get increasing conviction with every passing year that Blue Origin, the space company, is the most important work that I’m doing,” he said in 2018 during an interview with Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner. (Axel Springer is Insider’s parent company.)

Bezos added that he believes if he doesn’t pursue space travel, “we will eventually end up with a civilization of stasis,” which he said he finds “demoralizing.” It’s his generation’s role, he said, to lower the barrier of entry to space travel.

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The date of Jeff Bezos’ trip to space isn’t a coincidence – it’s the anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon

Jeff Bezos and the Apollo 11 moon landing
  • Jeff Bezos will travel to the edge of space aboard a Blue Origin rocket on July 20.
  • The date has good mojo in space history: It’s the anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
  • Bezos is obsessed with Apollo 11 – he retrieved pieces of its engine from the ocean in 2013.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jeff Bezos’ trip aboard a Blue Origin rocket on Tuesday will take place on a fortuitous day in space history.

The 11-minute trip 62 miles above Earth will take Bezos to the edge of space. Inside Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft, Bezos, his brother Mark, 82-year-old aviator Wally Funk, and Dutch teen Oliver Daemen will have three minutes to float around the spacecraft and view Earth from afar – or gaze into the depths of outer space.

While it could be a risky trip for the world’s richest person and ex-CEO of Amazon, the date of the trip – July 20 – has pretty good mojo: It’s the anniversary of the first humans landing on the moon 52 years ago.

On July 16, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin blasted off from the Florida coast with the mission of landing on the moon and collecting samples of its surface. Four days later, on July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin set foot on the moon, planting the American flag and capturing iconic footage of their voyage.

Read more: Space vacations will soon be an option for people with 6 figures to burn. These are 4 companies leading the industry.

Now, decades later, Bezos will fulfill a childhood ambition to visit space on the same date. Bezos’ interest in space stems from his maternal grandfather, Lawrence Preston Gise. According to Brad Stone’s book, “Amazon Unbound,” Gise spent the 1950s and 1960s working on space technology and missile defense systems for the Atomic Energy Commission, a federal agency that was created in 1946 to manage the use of nuclear energy for both civilian and military applications. A young Bezos used to travel to Gise’s South Texas ranch each summer where he would watch Apollo launches and read science fiction books from the library, according to Stone’s book.

As an adult, Bezos took his love of space to the next level: First, with the founding of Blue Origin in 2000, a rocket company focused on getting humans to the moon. Then, in 2013, Bezos, his brother, his brother-in-law, and his parents spent three weeks at sea recovering pieces of the engine of the Apollo 11 spacecraft.

“We’ve seen an underwater wonderland,” Bezos wrote of the experience, “an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end, one that serves testament to the Apollo program.”

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Jeff Bezos is going to space tomorrow. Here’s how to watch and what could happen if something goes wrong.

Jeff Bezos looks into distance in front of Blue Origin rocket
Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.

In just a matter of hours, Jeff Bezos and his crewmates will be blasting into space.

The Amazon billionaire, who founded Blue Origin over two decades ago, will embark on the rocket company’s first human spaceflight. Joined by his brother and two other passengers, Bezos will launch from a remote area of West Texas to just past the boundary separating Earth and space.

If all goes well, Bezos will be one step closer in his quest to commercialize space travel, a goal shared by rivals Richard Branson and Elon Musk.

As Bezos likely makes last-minute preparations for his groundbreaking flight, here’s everything you need to know about the voyage.

Why is this flight such a big deal?

Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 – since then, the New Shepard rocket, which will be carrying Bezos and company to space, has flown successfully 15 times.

But Tuesday’s trip will be the first time Blue Origin has ever ferried human passengers to space, which means Bezos – and his crew – will be something of a guinea pig.

Bezos, the founder and executive chairman of Amazon, is the richest person in the world with a net worth of $206 billion.

Who else will be on the flight?

Jeff Bezos' spaceflight crew at Blue Origin headquarters: Oliver Daemen, Wally Funk, and Mark Bezos
From left: Oliver Daemen, Wally Funk, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Bezos.

Bezos’ crew includes three other passengers: Mark Bezos, Wally Funk, and Oliver Daemen.

Mark, who is Bezos’ younger brother, is a former marketing executive and volunteer firefighter. He’s been involved in the Bezos Family Foundation for over 20 years, and was also an early investor in Amazon, likely making him a millionaire several times over.

Funk is an 82-year-old aviator who, in 1961, joined an all-woman space mission dubbed “Mercury 13.” But the program was ultimately scrapped – seemingly for sexist reasons – and Funk never made it to space. Funk later embarked on a long career in flight and says she has taught over 3,000 people to fly.

Daemen is an 18-year-old from the Netherlands who will be Blue Origin’s first paying customer. After the anonymous bidder who paid $28 million for the seat in an auction last month had “scheduling conflicts,” Blue Origin offered the seat to Daemen, whose father paid for the spot, according to CNBC.

Daemen graduated from high school in 2020, took a gap year to obtain his pilot license, and will attend college for physics and innovation management this fall.

Daemen will be the youngest person ever to go to space, while Funk will be the oldest.

What will happen once the rocket lifts off?

Blue Origin New Shepard rocket lifting off
New Shepard blasts off.

Once New Shepard lifts off on Tuesday, it will hurtle upwards toward the Kármán line, which is about 62 miles above Earth and is considered the boundary of space.

The force of the trek skyward, combined with Earth’s gravitational pull, will pin the passengers to their seats – then, after about three minutes, the rocket will separate from the passenger-carrying capsule, the capsule will clear the Kármán line, and the passengers will feel weightless.

The crew will have about three minutes to float around the cabin and peer out the windows at Earth, or into the depths of space. Then, Bezos and company will buckle themselves back in for the plunge to the ground. Parachutes will open – likely causing the crew to feel an abrupt jerk – in order to help slow their descent into the Texas desert.

Is the trip risky?

As Insider reported, New Shepard has a good test-flight record, and at 11 minutes long, the trip will be a short one, lessening the risk: The rocket will be traveling slower because it’s not attempting to reach orbit, and it will be easier to control because its engines are smaller.

Bezos and his crew are flying without a pilot, since Blue Origin uses a fully automated launch system. It’s not necessarily riskier, so long as the passengers have undergone the proper training for how to handle emergencies.

The crew also might be skipping pressurized spacesuits and helmets, which could save their lives in the event of a cabin leak. But the suits also have downsides: Many first-time fliers throw up during a rocket’s launch or landing, and if they weren’t adequately trained to operate their suit, they could choke on their own vomit.

Either way, spaceflight is always a risky proposition: Roughly 1% of human spaceflights in the US have resulted in a fatal accident, according to an analysis by the Center for Space Policy and Strategy.

That’s “about 10,000 times more dangerous than flying on a commercial airliner,” George Nield, the co-author of the report and former Federal Aviation Administration associate administrator, recently told Insider.

What happens if the rocket fails?

Blue Origin capsule parachuting back to Earth
The New Shepard capsule parachuting back to Earth.

The New Shepard rocket comes with an emergency escape system that will detach the capsule carrying the crew and parachute it safely back to Earth, Insider reports.

Blue Origin has tested the system three times in the past, including on a flight to space.

How do you watch the launch?

The broadcast of the event will begin at 6:30 a.m. CT/7:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday. Blue Origin says that it’s targeting 9 a.m. ET for liftoff.

You can watch a stream of the event live on Insider’s website.

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Jeff Bezos shares video of Oliver Daemen, the 18-year-old who will fly with him and become the youngest person to go to space

oliver daemen
Oliver Daemen, 18, will fly to space with billionaire Jeff Bezos on Tuesday.

  • Jeff Bezos shared a video to Instagram on Sunday sharing more information about 18-year-old Oliver Daemen.
  • Daemen will join Bezos on Blue Origin’s New Shepard on Tuesday when it flys to the edge of space.
  • Daemen will be the youngest person to ever fly to space and says he feels a “responsibility” to get young people interested in space.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos on Sunday shared a short video to Instagram introducing his followers to 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, who will join him on his voyage to the edge of space on Blue Origin’s New Shephard Tuesday.

Daemen was selected to join the space flight when the anonymous person who bid $28 million to take the flight pulled out due to “scheduling conflicts.” Daemen is Blue Origin’s first paying customer, having bid for the seat during the June auction.

“I think it’s the ultimate dream for so many people to go to space,” Daemen, who will become the youngest person to travel to space, said in the video.

He said his first memories of spaces were watching the TV show “Thunderbirds,” an apparent reference to a British sci-fi show from the 1960s.

A post shared by Jeff Bezos (@jeffbezos)

Daemen will travel to space with Bezos, Bezos’ brother Mark, famed aviator 82-year-old Wally Funk, and the New Shephard flight crew.

“It’s so cool to go to with this group because Wally’s one of the best pilots ever and has such an amazing life story,” Daemen said in the video.

He also called Bezos “one of the best businessmen ever and a great visionary.”

“I feel a responsibility because I’m the youngest in space,” he said. “And to get more people interested in space, and not even just space – but science -will be such an opportunity for me to do.

“When I touch down and get out of the vehicle. I think I’ll be just speechless,” he added.

Bezos and his fellow soon-to-be astronauts have begun training for their suborbital flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard, Blue Origin officials said at a press conference Sunday. Officials said the New Shephard rocket showed “no issues” and is ready for the July 20 launch.

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Jeff Bezos and his fellow Blue Origin astronauts have started training for Tuesday’s space flight. ‘New Shepard is ready to fly,’ the company said.

A composite of jeff bezos and the new shepard rocket taking off.
Jeff Bezos (left) is set to launch aboard the New Shepard rocket (right) on July 20.

  • Jeff Bezos and his fellow soon-to-be astronauts have begun training for their suborbital flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard.
  • Bezos will fly to the edge of space with his brother, Mark, 82-year-old Wally Funk, and 18-year-old Oliver Daeman.
  • The rocket has undergone necessary safety checks and is ready to go, Blue Origin officials said Sunday.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his fellow astronauts have started the training process ahead of their flight to the edge of space on Tuesday, Blue Origin officials announced at a press conference Sunday, two days ahead of the launch.

The process for Bezos, who founded Blue Origin in 2000, and the other astronauts involves two full days of “very concise training,” said Ariane Cornell, the director of astronaut and orbital sales at Blue Origin.

Bezos and his fellow soon-to-be space travelers all met each other in West Texas within the past 48 hours, Cornell said. They are currently staying at an astronaut village not far from the launch site, she added.

The anonymous person whose $28 million bid won a seat on what will be Blue Origin’s first manned flight had “scheduling conflicts” and will not be on the New Shepherd flight when it launches this week.

Instead, Bezos will travel to space with the ship’s crew, his brother, Mark Bezos, 84-year-old aviator Wally Funk, and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, who replaced the top bidder. The New Shepard flight will make history, bringing aboard the youngest and oldest-ever US astronauts.

The New Shepard will travel to the imaginary boundary 62 miles (100 kilometers) above sea level known as the Kármán line, where experts say space begins, as Insider’s Morgan McFall-Johnsen previously reported. Passengers are expected to experience weightlessness and views of the Earth below them for about three minutes.

The flight will come less than two weeks after another billionaire founder of a space company, Richard Branson, flew to the edge of space with three crewmates. The Virgin Galactic space plane reached 55 miles above Earth then landed safely.

The ship rocket had undergone necessary safety checks and has “no issues,” Blue Origin officials said. New Shepard has flown successfully 15 times since 2015, but never with people onboard.

Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said Sunday the company hopes to reuse the New Shepherd rocket for a flight carrying paying passengers either in late September or early October.

The spacecraft is fully autonomous and has an escape system that is designed to jettison passengers away from the ship in case of emergency.

“We are not currently working on any open issues, and New Shepard is ready to fly,” said Steve Lanius, the flight director for the Tuesday voyage.

While rain and thunderstorms are predicted for the West Texas area where the rocket will launch, officials at the press conference Sunday said they expected the weather to be clear for the scheduled liftoff at 8 a.m. local time. They said they’d launch weather balloons Monday and again on Tuesday to ensure that conditions were ideal.

There will be no spectators permitted near the launch site Tuesday morning because the facility lacked the infrastructure to handle them, Cornell said. Instead, the best way to watch is through Blue Origin’s live stream of the launch, she said.

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