Dutch physics student, 18, who became the world’s youngest astronaut when he flew on Jeff Bezos’ inaugural space flight admits: ‘I’ve never bought anything from Amazon’
- Oliver Daemen admitted to the Amazon founder that he is not an Amazon customer
- Daemen, 18, said his revelation caught billionaire Jeff Bezos by surprise after their trip 66 miles above Earth last week
- ‘Oh wow, it’s [been] a long time ago [since] I heard someone say that,’ Bezos said
- Daemen was the ‘first paying customer’ to fly on Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule
- Daemen’s father, Joes, a Dutch financier, had placed the second-highest bid to get his son aboard the craft
- Winning bidder paid $28 million, but gave up the chance to fly due to a scheduling conflict
- Bezos burned through $5.5 billion for the 10-plus-minute trip on the 52nd anniversary of the moon landing
Dutch physics student, 18, who became the world’s youngest space traveler aboard Jeff Bezos’s New Shepard craft last week, shocked the billionaire by revealing that he had never ordered anything from Amazon.com.
‘I told Jeff, like, I’ve actually never bought something from Amazon,’ Daemen told interviewers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. ‘And he was like, ”oh, wow, it’s [been] a long time ago [since] I heard someone say that.”’
In what was seen as a tone-deaf statement following the 10-plus-minute, 66-mile-high trip above Earth on July 20, Bezos said, ‘So, to every Amazon customer out there and every Amazon employee thank you from the bottom of my heart.’
Team Blue Origin after returning from their mission to space on Tuesday morning in Van Horn, Texas. Oliver Daemen, left, joined Jeff Bezos, Wally Funk and Mark Bezos
Jeff Bezos tosses a candy into the mouth of 18-year-old Oliver Daemen as the Blue Origin crew float in space on July 20
Oliver is the son of Joes Daemen, right, the founder and CEO of Dutch private equity firm Somerset Capital Partners
The comment came while critics contend the commercial space race between Bezos and fellow billionaires Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, and Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic, is elitist and that many will never be able to afford the experience.
Hundreds of affluent customers to date, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 seat on one of Virgin’s space trips.
Joining Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic in the chase for space tourists is Musk’s SpaceX. The Associated Press reports SpaceX plans to send its customers into orbit, not on brief up-and-down hops. Musk has yet to commit to a launch himself.
Daemen was the ‘first paying customer’ for Blue Origin, the company said in an email. The teen flew to the edge of space alongside Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace ‘Wally’ Funk and two other passengers.
Daemen’s father, financier Joes Daemen, had the second-place bid in an auction for a seat aboard New Shepard. The auction winner bid $28 million, but opted to take a future flight.
Oliver Daemen found out he would be joining the flight while on a family holiday in Italy.
“They called and said: Are you still interested?’ and we were like ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!'”
At just 18, Oliver was the youngest to travel to space.
“We didn’t pay even close to $28 million, but they chose me because I was the youngest and I was also a pilot and I also knew quite a lot about it already,” said Oliver, adding that he and the crew received just two days of safety training.
Daemen is due to begin a degree in physics and innovation management at the University of Utrecht in September.
Bezos and the crew of Blue Origin took off from their base at Van Horn, Texas, at 9.12am EST on July 20 – the 52nd anniversary of the moon landing. Bezos’ group ascended for four minutes before the New Shepard rocket booster separated from their capsule, leaving them floating in zero gravity for four minutes.
They returned to earth with parachutes controlling the pace of their descent, touching down in the Texas desert at 9.22am EST.
The journey cost $5.5billion.
Bezos, who stepped down as Amazon CEO earlier this year and will now split his time between Blue Origin and his environmental charity dubbed the Earth Fund and launched in February 2020.
According to CNBC, the program issues grants to scientists, activists and other organizations in their efforts to “preserve and protect the natural world.”
Oliver Daemen, left, Mark Bezos, Jeff Bezos and Wally Funk appear at a press conference after returning from space
Jeff Bezos, left welcomes up Oliver Daemen to Launch Centre One in Texas
Bezos’ Blue Origin crew traveled 66 miles above the surface of Earth – 13 miles higher than Virgin Galactic billionaire Branson, who tweeted his congratulations to the team afterwards.
Bezos says his goal is to move the world’s major industries that are damaging the planet to space in order to preserve Earth’s environment. He wants to develop space travel like aviation pioneers did with commercial airliners, and says it’ll eventually become more affordable.
Bezos has revealed that he’s sold $100million in tickets for future flights. Blue Origin will have two more commercial flights this year using the same capsule.
THE BILLIONAIRE SPACE RACE: HOW BRANSON, MUSK AND BEZOS ARE VYING FOR GALACTIC SUPREMACY
Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin’s space capsule
Dubbed the ‘NewSpace’ set, Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk all say they were inspired by the first moon landing in 1969, when the US beat the Soviet Union in the space race, and there is no doubt how much it would mean to each of them to win the ‘new space race’.
Amazon founder Bezos had looked set to be the first of the three to fly to space, having announced plans to launch aboard his space company Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft on July 20.
The billionaire mogul will travel with his younger brother Mark, a charity auction winner who’s shelling out $28 million and pioneering female astronaut Wally Funk, 82.
However, Branson has now announced he’s planning to make a suborbital flight nine days before Bezos and his brother. He revealed on Twitter that he plans to be Astronaut 001 on Virgin Galactic’s July 11 test flight.
Although SpaceX and Tesla founder Musk has said he wants to go into space, and even ‘die on Mars’, he has not said when he might blast into orbit.
SpaceX appears to be leading the way in the broader billionaire space race with numerous launches carrying NASA equipment to the ISS and partnerships to send tourists to space by 2021.
On February 6 2018, SpaceX sent rocket towards the orbit of Mars, 140 million miles away, with Musk’s own red Tesla roadster attached.
Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule
NASA has already selected two astronauts who will be on-board the first manned Dragon mission.
SpaceX has also started sending batches of 60 satellites into space to help form its Starlink network.
Musk hopes this will provide an interconnected web of satellites around Earth which will beam down free internet to people worldwide.
Branson and Virgin Galactic are taking a different approach to conquering space. It has repeatedly, and successfully, conducted test flights of the Virgin Galactic’s Unity space plane.
The first took place in December 2018 and the latest on May 22, with the flight accelerating to more than 2,000 miles per hour (Mach 2.7).
More than 600 affluent customers to date, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a $250,000 (£200,000) seat on one of Virgin’s space trips.
Branson has previously said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his private rocket firm SpaceX.
Richard Branson with the Virgin Galactic craft
SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows – one to the side and one overhead.
The space ship is 60ft long with a 90inch diameter cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.
It climbs to 50,000ft before the rocket engine ignites. SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier craft, White Knight II, once it has passed the 50-mile mark.
Passengers become ‘astronauts’ when they reach the Karman line, the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere.
The spaceship will then make a suborbital journey with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight lasting approximately 1.5 hours.
Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he finances Blue Origin with around $1 billion (£720 million) of Amazon stock each year.
The system consists of a pressurised crew capsule atop a reusable ‘New Shepard’ booster rocket.
Bezos is one of the richest men in the world and Blue Origin has successfully flown the New Shepard rocket 15 times.
At its peak, the capsule reached 65 miles (104 kilometres), just above the official threshold for space and landed vertically seven minutes after liftoff.
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