VAN HORN, Texas — When Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket goes up Tuesday, it'll have on it the youngest person to ever go into space as well as the oldest. It'll also have billionaire Jeff Bezos and his brother as passengers. The four of them will be the only ones on Blue Origin's first human spaceflight.
AP: Jeff Bezos created Blue Origin in 2000, a move that he said prompted his high school girlfriend to observe, “Jeff started Amazon just to get enough money to do Blue Origin — and I can’t prove her wrong.” He has said he finances the rocket company by selling $1 billion in Amazon stock a year. Bezos caught the space bug at age 5 while watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s moon landing on July, 20, 1969. He chose the 52nd anniversary for his own launch. Enamored by space history, Bezos named his New Shepard rocket after Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and his bigger, still-in-development New Glenn rocket after John Glenn, the first American in orbit. The 57-year-old Bezos — who also owns The Washington Post — stepped down as Amazon’s CEO earlier this month and last week donated $200 million to the Smithsonian Institution to renovate its National Air and Space Museum and launch an education center. “To see the Earth from space, it changes you. It changes your relationship with this planet, with humanity,” he said. “It’s a thing I’ve wanted to do all my life.”
Mark Bezos, 50, is an investor and volunteer firefighter.
AP: At age 82, Willie Funk will become the oldest person in space. She was among 13 female pilots — the so-called Mercury 13 — who took the same tests in the early 1960s as NASA’s Mercury 7 astronauts, but were barred because of their gender. “Finally!" Funk exclaimed when offered a seat alongside Bezos.
Dutch citizen Oliver Daemen is going up on New Shepard. At 18, he will become the youngest person in space. His financier father bid on the capsule seat in June, but dropped out when the price soared. Blue Origin came calling just over a week ago, after the unidentified auction winner switched to a later flight. The teenage space fanatic, who starts college this fall, is Blue Origin's first paying customer; no word on what his ticket cost.