- Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands, is joining Jeff Bezos’ spaceflight.
- Daemen is Blue Origin’s first paying customer and replaces the anonymous auction winner.
- Daemen has a pilots license, is fascinated by space, and will go to college for physics this fall.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
When Oliver Daemen blasts off on July 20, he’ll be making history as the youngest person to travel to space.
The Dutch teen will join Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, Bezos’ brother Mark, and aviator Wally Funk aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft, which will be carrying human passengers for the first time ever.
Daemen, who is currently 18, is Blue Origin’s first paying customer – he bid for the seat at an auction last month, ultimately losing out to an anonymous bidder who paid $28 million for the opportunity. But Daemen is flying in that passenger’s place after “scheduling conflicts” arose, Blue Origin said in a blog post on Thursday.
In a video posted to Twitter, Daemen said he’s “super excited” to go into space.
“I’ve been dreaming about this all my life,” he said. “I am super excited to experience zero-g and see the world from above.”
-Bright (@Bright) July 15, 2021
According to Dutch news service RTL Nieuws, Daemen has already left for Texas, where New Shepard will launch, in order to complete astronaut training ahead of liftoff on Tuesday.
So who is Oliver Daemen and how did he become a passenger on the highly anticipated spaceflight? Here’s what we know so far.
Daemen is the son of Joes Daemen, the CEO of a private equity firm
Joes Daemen founded Somerset Capital Partners, a real estate private equity firm, in 2005. The firm is based in Oisterwijk, Netherlands.
According to CNBC, Daemen participated in the auction and had already secured a seat on Blue Origin’s second flight, but the company “moved him up” when the auction winner deferred. Daemen’s father paid for the seat, though the company hasn’t disclosed how much he paid, CNBC reports.
He’ll be a college freshman in the fall
Daemen graduated high school in 2020 and took a gap year – beginning this September, he’ll attend the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands where he’ll study physics and innovation management, according to Blue Origin.
He’s a fan of underwater adventures and water sports
If Daemen’s Instagram account is any indication, he’s spent much of his free time on the water. Over the years, he’s posted pictures of himself snorkeling, surfing, and wakeboarding.
He’s rubbed elbows with Dutch celebrities
Daemen posted a photo to his Instagram account in 2018 of him, his sister, DJ Martin Garrix, and Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen.
He’s fascinated with flight and outer space
Daemen spent his gap year working on getting his pilots license, and this trip to space is the culmination of a lifelong interest, 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 company said.