The anonymous winner of a ticket to join billionaire Jeff Bezos in space next week will no longer board the New Shepard spacecraft due to “scheduling conflicts”, Bezos’s Blue Origin company announced on Thursday.
The winner, who paid $29.7m to join one of the world’s richest men in space, will instead be replaced by Oliver Daemen, a recent high school graduate. The 18-year-old took a gap year in 2020 to obtain his private pilot’s license and plans to study physics and innovation management at the Netherlands-based University of Utrecht in September.
Daemen is the son of Joes Daemen, the CEO of Somerset Capital Partners BV, a Netherlands-based investment firm. The cost of Daemen’s ticket, which his father purchased, has yet to be disclosed.
In a video posted on Twitter, Daemen said, “I am super excited to go into space” and “I’ve been dreaming about this all my life.” “Oliver represents a new generation of people who will help us build a road to space,” Blue Origin said in a statement.
In addition to Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark Bezos, Daemen will be accompanied by Wally Funk, an 82-year-old American veteran pilot. “At 18 years old and 82 years young, Oliver Daemen and Wally Funk represent the youngest and oldest astronauts to travel to space,” according to Bezos’s company.
The New Shepard spacecraft, which is scheduled for takeoff in west Texas next Tuesday, will launch its passengers over 62 miles (100km) above the Earth’s surface for a mission estimated to last about 10 minutes. Three to four of those minutes will be spent in space.
The launch date coincides with the 51st anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, in 1969.
More than 7,600 bidders from 159 countries participated in the auction. Proceeds will go to Club for the Future, a non-profit that promotes careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Blue Origin has also announced that it is awarding $1m each to 19 non-profit and advocacy organizations including the National Space Society and International Astronautical Federation.
The original ticket winner will fly out on a later New Shepard mission, according to Blue Origin.