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$30m Blue Origin auction winner too busy to attend spaceflight

The anonymous winner of Blue Origin’s auction for the final seat next to Jeff Bezos on his company’s first crewed spaceflight has said they will be unable to attend due to ‘scheduling conflicts’.

$30m Blue Origin auction winner too busy to attend spaceflight
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The unidentified person won the charity auction last month with a bid of $29.7 million, following a five-week auction and final live-streamed event. 

Over the five-week auction, over 7,600 people registered to bid from over 150 countries.

According to Blue Origin, the charity auction winner “has chosen to fly on a future New Shepard mission due to scheduling conflicts”, and will thus not be joining billionaire founder Bezos, his brother Mark, and pioneering female pilot Wally Funk on the inaugural crewed flight to space.

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The near-$30 million winning bid was donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, to assist in its mission to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and invest in the future of life in space.

Instead, recent high-school graduate and self-confessed space fan Oliver Daemen will take the final seat onboard the rocket.

Daemen will technically become the first paying customer aboard a Blue Origin spaceflight, after his father, CEO of Netherlands-based investment firm Somerset Capital Partners Joes Daemen, purchased the ticket for him for an undisclosed price.

The addition of 18-year-old Daemen will see the New Shepard flight host both the world’s oldest and youngest astronauts, with 82-year-old veteran pilot and Mercury 13 member Wally Funk also set to fly.

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The upcoming flight will be New Shepard’s 16th flight, and its first with crew onboard. Lift-off is scheduled for 8pm CDT on 20 July.

The news comes just days after US Federal Aviation Administration officially granted billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin its licence to carry humans into space aboard its New Shepard aircraft.

The approval came in with just days to spare before the spaceflight takes off on 20 July.

Under the newly-provided approval, Blue Origin is permitted to carry humans to space from its Launch Sit One facility in Texas. The FAA license is currently valid through to the end of August.

The approval was granted based on information by Blue Origin on its hardware and software, gathered during the company’s previous 15 non-crewed flights, with the FAA deeming the company has successfully met regulatory requirements.

The New Shepard spacecraft is a rocket-and-capsule combo that flies autonomously for brief jaunts into suborbital space, around 100 kilometres above Earth.

The spacecraft flies high enough to see the curvature of the Earth, and experience a few minutes of low-gravity weightlessness, according to Blue Origin.

At the end of the flight, the pressurised crew capsule returns back down to Earth via parachutes. The flight will launch from Blue Origin’s reusable booster in West Texas, with a landing point also in West Texas.

According to the company, the crew capsule boasts six observation windows that are each nearly three times as large as Boeing 747 windows, and the largest ever to be used in space.

Hannah Dowling

Hannah Dowling

Writer – Defence and Aerospace, Momentum Media

Hannah joined Momentum as a journalist in 2019, and has since written breaking news stories across a diverse range of corporate industries, including finance, real estate, investments and aviation. She has a keen interest in the global aviation sector, with a particualy focus on improving overall individual wellbeing across the aerospace industry.

Hannah graduated from Macquarie University in Sydney Australia with a Bachelor of Media (Journalism) and is currently pursuing postgraduate studies.

Send Hannah an email at [email protected] or connect via Twitter or LinkedIn.

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