Today, Wally Funk, 81, and Oliver Daemen, 18, made history as the oldest and youngest people ever to go to space. They hitched a ride with Jeff Bezos and his brother, Mark, aboard the New Shepard, a rocket made by Bezos’ company, Blue Origin.
Blue Origin will eventually sell seats, though Bezos declined to say how much they’d sell for. “We’ll be announcing that later,” Bezos said, when The Verge asked how much his company plans to charge. When’s “later?” “We’re not quite sure yet.”
Daemen was the first paying customer — though he didn’t win the June auction for the seat. That winner, who remains anonymous, bid $28 million to fly, but had to reschedule for vague “scheduling conflicts.” (Blue Origin would not identify the bidder or explain what the issue was.) Daemen’s dad, a Dutch private equity firm’s CEO, was bumped up from the next mission, and gave the seat to his son.
“We know the vehicle is safe. If the vehicle is not safe for me, it’s not safe for anyone,” Bezos said in an interview with CNN. If nothing else, it’s good advertising for space tourism.
- (Left to right) Mark Bezos, Oliver Daemen, Wally Funk and Jeff Bezos walk toward New Shepard’s landing pad for a photo opp hours after returning from a quick trip to space. Joey Roulette / The Verge
- Wally Funk reacts to applause at a post-launch after getting her ceremonial “astronaut wings,” a tiny pin that serves as a rite of passage for people who’ve flown beyond 50 miles high, which is the border NASA considers space. Joey Roulette / The Verge
- Wally Funk, with former Space Shuttle commander and Blue Origin senior director for mission assurance Jeff Ashby, on stage during a post-mission event. Joey Roulette/The Verge
- Jeff Bezos gets his ceremonial “astronaut wings” after launching to space on his company’s New Shepard rocket. Joey Roulette / The Verge
- Jeff Bezos plays around with the goggles of American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart during an event after launching to space. Joey Roulette / The Verge
- Blue Origin’s fleet of Rivian electric trucks stand ready with the NS-16 crew inside before driving onto the company’s New Shepard landing pad for a photo opp hours after the crew returned from space. Joey Roulette
- Wally Funk rhapsodizes about her flight to the edge of space aboard Blue Origin’s crew capsule during a post-mission event with the rest of the NS-16 crew. Joey Roulette / The Verge
- Wally Funk recalls her flight to space: “We went right on up, and I saw darkness. I thought I was gonna see the world, but we weren’t quite high enough, and I felt great.” Joey Roulette / The Verge
- Blue Origin’s NS-16 crew walks on New Shepard’s landing pad hours after launching to and returning from the edge of space. Joey Roulette / The Verge