Who Is Oliver Daemen? Student to Become Youngest Person in Space With Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin

Blue Origin on Thursday announced that Dutch teen Oliver Daemen will accompany founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos and aerospace pioneer Wally Funk on the company's first human spaceflight, scheduled to launch on July 20.

Daemen, who is 18 years old, will be the first paying customer to fly on board Blue Origin's New Shepard launch vehicle. The teen is set to become the youngest person ever to fly into space, while Funk, 82, will be the oldest.

The 18-year-old is the son of multimillionaire Joes Daemen, the CEO of a private equity firm called Somerset Capital Partners, which is based in Oisterwijk, in the Netherlands.

According to a Blue Origin press release, flying on New Shepard will fulfil a lifelong dream for the teen, who has been fascinated by space, the moon and rockets since he was four years old.

Daemen graduated from high school in 2020 and took a gap year in order to obtain a private pilot's license. This September, he will begin a degree in physics and innovation management at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

In a video posted to Twitter, Daemen said: "I am super excited to go into space. I've been dreaming about this all my life and I will become the youngest astronaut ever because I am 18 years old. I am super excited to experience zero-G and see the world from above.

"Thank you so much to the people of Blue Origin for making this happen and making New Shepard."

Daemen will fly aboard New Shepard in place of the anonymous winning bidder who paid $28 million in a public auction for a seat. Blue Origin said the auction winner had to pull out of the July 20 launch due to "scheduling conflicts."

The company has not disclosed how much Daemen's seat on New Shepard cost. The ticket was originally purchased by his father for New Shepard's second human flight but Blue Origin moved him up when a space opened on the first flight.

The Somerset Capital Partners CEO gave the seat to his son rather than flying himself. The anonymous public auction winner will fly on the second flight instead.

Bob Smith, Blue Origin's CEO, said the company was "honored" to welcome Daemen on board New Shepard.

"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," he said.

Blue Origin's space vehicle, known as New Shepard, will lift off from "Launch Site One," which is located in a secluded desert area near the small town of Van Horn, Texas—around 120 miles southeast of El Paso.

The launch takes place on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The fully reusable New Shepard vehicle will ascend to an altitude of around 62 miles—a boundary known as the Kármán line that is widely recognized as the altitude where space begins.

The New Shepard launch comes soon after billionaire Richard Branson's successful Virgin Galactic flight.

Oliver Daemen
A photo showing Oliver Daemen who will fly aboard the New Shepard space vehicle with Jeff Bezos on July 20. Blue Origin