After paying an extraordinary $28 million at auction in June, the undisclosed winner of a ticket to join billionaire Jeff Bezos in space in less than a week will not be joining the world’s richest man, citing “scheduling conflicts,” the company announced today.
Instead, taking his place on board Blue Origin’s New Shepard mission from West Texas on July 20 will be one Oliver Daemen, a gap year student who graduated from high school last year and will start his degree in physics and innovation management at University of Utrecht this coming September. Blue Origin describes Daemen as its “first paying customer,” although the (likely large) amount paid has not been disclosed.
Blue Origin confirmed to Forbes that Daemen was a participant in the June auction and had secured a seat on Blue Origin’s second flight. The cost of Daemen’s ticket is not yet disclosed. Oliver Daemen’s father is Joes Daemen, founder of private equity group Somerset Capital Partners, based in Oisterwijk, Netherlands.
Daemen, who out of nowhere will now find himself the center of global attention, will join Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos and aviator Wally Funk aboard Blue Origin’s first human flight. “At 18-years-old and 82-years-young, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk represent the youngest and oldest astronauts to travel to space,” Blue Origin said in a statement.
“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.” Blue Origin wrote, noting that Daeman had studied to obtain his private pilot’s license.
The $28 million winner of the ticket “who has asked to remain anonymous” will fly on a future New Shepard mission due to scheduling conflicts, according to the statement.
Space, But Not With Jeff Bezos
The surprise passenger swap on Blue Origin’s much-hyped flight comes after an impressive 600 people from 159 countries registered to bid on the June ticket auction. The New York Times reported that although the winning bid was $28 million, a 6% buyer’s commission actually brings the total cost to just shy of $30 million.
The money from the auction has allowed Blue Origin’s foundation to donate $1 million to 19 nonprofit organizations ($19 million in total), all of which are working to support the future of living and working in space, the company said on Thursday.
Some of the ticket’s gloss was likely worn over the past weekend thanks in part to billionaire Richard Branson’s successful Virgin Galactic journey to the edge of space on Sunday.
Virgin Galactic says it could start putting paying customers in space from 2022 at a price estimated to be between $250,000 and $400,000—a fraction of what the winner of the Blue Origin seat paid to charity for his or her ticket.