Jeff Bezos space flight crew: How much is Blue Origin launch costing and who is on the rocket?

Andrew Griffin@_andrew_griffin
Tuesday 20 July 2021 14:18
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Jeff Bezos is set to fly on his own rocket, becoming the second

But he will go alongside three other crew members who are not as famous or as rich.

They are made up of his brother Mark, pioneering almost-astronaut Wally Funk and teenager Oliver Daemen, whose father bought him a seat on the rocket. The latter two will be the oldest and youngest people, respectively, to go to space.

Strictly speaking, the passengers are not crew in the traditional sense – the spacecraft is autonomous, and so will do all the work of flying itself. (That is in contrast with Richard Branson’s flight, which had pilots as well as the billioniare and his fellow passengers.)

Here is everything you need to know about the history-making and space-faring quartet, including how much a seat cost.

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Jeff Bezos

By far the best known of the crew, Jeff Bezos founded Amazon and stepped down as its chief executive earlier this month. While he is probably better known for his work for Amazon and the Washington Post, his commitment to space is not new: he founded Blue Origin in 2000 and has been closely involved with it ever since.

Mr Bezos’s mission was set to be even more pioneering when it was announced, when was to become the first billionaire in space, and the first person to travel there in a spacecraft built by their own company. Richard Branson beat him to those records – though Blue Origin has argued that the Virgin Galactic flight does not really count as space travel.

Mark Bezos

Jeff’s brother, Mark, might not be as rich as the more famous Bezos – but he is still well off. He has shares in Amazon that mean he is a millionaire, and he has made a career of his own, volunteering as a firefighter, working as head of communications at a charity, and being one of the co-founders of private equity company Highpost Capital.

Mark is five years younger than Jeff, who he has described as his “best friend”. (The pair also have another sibling, sister Christina.)

Wally Funk

Ms Funk is by the far the most qualified of her crew. Among other achievements, she was one of the Mercury 13, who completed the same training programme as the early Nasa astronauts and almost went to space, as well as other work in aviation since.

Ms Funk, like Mark Bezos, does not appear to have paid for her ticket. She was personally invited to join the flight by Jeff Bezos.

At 82, she will become the oldest person in space after the flight is completed. The record is currently held by John Glenn – who lends his name to another of Blue Origin’s spacecraft – after he flew on the space shuttle at the age of 77.

Oliver Daemen

The latest and least famous addition to the crew, Mr Daemen was not strictly meant to be on the flight – his seat opened up when the winner of the open auction said they were too busy to go on the flight. His financier father had been the second in line, and so the ticket was passed on to him, who passed it on to Oliver.

Relatively little is known about Daemen, who is a student who will go to the Netherlands’ University of Utrecht later this year after taking a gap year to learn to fly.

But one very big thing is known about him: the cost of his seat. Daemen’s father Joes paid for the seat – and while the price hasn’t been revealed, it’s likely to be millions, given that the winner of the auction paid $28 million.

As well as the high price, the ticket means that Daemen is Blue Origin’s first paying customer and one of the first ever people to pay for a ticket on board a spacecraft.

He is also the youngest person ever to go into space. He beats the then 25-year-old Gherman Titov, who flew as part of the Soviet Union’s Vostok 2 mission in the 1960s.

Jeff Bezos shared a video of Daemen in advance of the launch, which revealed more about his thoughts on the launch. He said it was “cool” to be sharing the trip with Ms Funk, that he felt a “responsibility because I’m the youngest person in space”, and that he expects to be “speechless” when he arrives back on Earth.

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