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Teen in space! Dutch student to be youngest person to ever to leave earth’s atmosphere

Written by on 15/07/2021

An 18-year-old Dutch student will become the youngest ever person in space after being confirmed as the first paying passenger aboard Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s rocket when it lifts off next week.

Oliver Daemen will join Bezos, the tycoon’s brother Mark and veteran aviator Wally Funk on the New Shepard mission to space when it blasts off from Texas on Tuesday.

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Bezos picks Wally Funk to join him in space

Funk, who was one of 13 women to take part in NASA spaceflight training in the 1960s only to be denied actual missions, will become the oldest person in space on next week’s flight.

The original winner of the auction to secure the fourth spot in the capsule has bailed on the first mission because of a scheduling conflict. The anonymous bidder paid $28 million.

It is believed Daeman’s millionaire father Joes had secured a place on the second planned flight in the auction but offered his seat to his son when the place became available on the first flight.

The teenager, who graduated from high school last year and is due to study physics at the University of Utrecht, says the flight will fulfil a lifelong dream.

Bezos’s flight will come nine days after he was beaten into space by his rival billionaire Richard Branson. The Virgin tycoon completed a successful return journey on Sunday, 17 years after he began his quest to take passengers into space.

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But it is likely to be next year before any of the hundreds of people who have paid up to £250,000 for a ride with Virgin Galactic will actually get to make the journey.

Taking a paying passenger up is a landmark moment for Bezos’s Blue Origin.

Unlike Branson’s aircraft-launched spaceship, Bezos’s New Shepard will blast off as a more traditional rocket-and-capsule launch.

Those aboard will experience the weightlessness of zero gravity for a few minutes at a height of 62 miles above the earth’s surface, higher than the 53 miles reached by Virgin Galactic. Where Branson had two pilots aboard, there will be no crew on New Shepard as the entire operation is automated.

Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson, and Elon Musk are racing to the stars
Image: Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson, and Elon Musk are in a billionaire’s battle battle for the stars

Branson, Bezos and SpaceX founder Elon Musk have been engaged for years in a billionaire’s battle to win the space tourism race. Musk was in New Mexico to witness Branson’s flight and the three continue to believe there is a huge market among those wanting to fly to space.

Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic received approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration to carry passengers into space and Branson and Bezos know this is a key moment in reassuring customers they can safely complete missions. Musk has not yet confirmed if he will take a seat on a SpaceX trip.

Bezos, who has talked of creating space colonies to house trillions of people, knows the world will be watching his launch from the tiny town of Van Horn in Texas.

His New Shepard craft is named in honour of Alan Shepard, the first American to travel into space, and the launch will take place on the 53rd anniversary of the first moon landing.

 Sky News

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