Meet Oliver Daemen, the Dutch teen flying to space with Jeff Bezos after his hedge fund dad paid millions for the ticket of a lifetime

This 2021 photo provided by his family shows Oliver Daemen in an airplane cockpit. The 18-year-old from the Netherlands is about to become the youngest person in space. Blue Origin announced Thursday, July 15, 2021, that the teenager will be traveling on the July 20 launch in West Texas. (Daemen Family via AP)

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.

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An illustration of the Blue Origin capsule that will be used to take tourists into space. Photo: Blue Origin via AP

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 US$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, July 15.

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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.”

According to Dutch news service RTL Nieuws, Daemen has already left for Texas, where New Shepard will launch, to complete astronaut training ahead of lift-off on Tuesday.

So who is Oliver Daemen and how did he become a passenger on the highly anticipated space flight? Here’s what we know so far.

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He is the son of a private equity firm CEO

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 took part 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.

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He’s starting university this autumn

Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands, is about to become the youngest person in space. Photo: Daemen family via AP

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 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 snorkelling, surfing and wakeboarding.

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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 One driver Max Verstappen.

He’s fascinated with flight and outer space

Oliver Daemen in 2006. Photo: Daemen family via AP

Daemen spent his gap year working on getting his pilot’s license, and this trip to space is the culmination of a lifelong interest, according to Blue Origin.

“Flying on New Shepard will fulfil a lifelong dream for Oliver, who has been fascinated by space, the moon, and rockets since he was four,” the company said.

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Jeff Bezos
  • The 18-year-old will join Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark and aviator Wally Funk on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft on July 20
  • Oliver posed with Formula One racer Max Verstappen on Instagram, loves snorkelling and surfing, and has been ‘fascinated by space since he was four’